IN THEATERS (SF) – “Tragedy Girls”

Tragedy Girls (2017; Dir.: Tyler MacIntire)


By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, November 3.

Appealing newcomers Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp headline this ghoulish and unfunny horror satire, playing high school cheerleaders and lifelong besties with an unhealthily active interest in serial killers.  In an attempt to expand their skills and increase their followers, murderous social media addicts Sadie and McKayla kidnap a seasoned serial killer (Kevin Durand), wreaking homicidal havoc in his name when he refuses to help and using the resulting infamy to promote their online brand.  As bodies pile up in increasingly cartoonish fashion, Sadie and McKayla’s natural-born-killers bond gets tested by cute boys and the vicissitudes of teenage popularity.  Director MacIntire and co-writer Chris Lee Hill pile on the bratty amorality, but it’s all in the service of a cheap, bad-looking, one-joke movie (Millennials and their social media amirite nyuk nyuk nyuk) filled with enough tired and uninsightful self-referential jokes to fill Scream 5 through 7.  Only the sheer adorable-ness of Hildebrand and Shipp makes Tragedy Girls the least bit bearable.

Daniel Barnes @ the SN&R/SA Current (6/4 and 6/11 issues)


*Bill Pohlad’s affecting Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy cuts back and forth between two key eras in the troubled musician’s life, and the dual lead performances by non-lookalikes Paul Dano and John Cusack mesh seamlessly, like two instruments playing in different keys making an unexpectedly beautiful sound.

*The aloofly stylish biopic Saint Laurent is unique in that it’s not a story about an artist’s ascent toward triumph, but about his descent from triumph toward irrelevance and oblivion.

Entourage-4*My Saint Laurent review was republished in this week’s San Antonio Current.


*Entourage feels like four TV episodes lazily assembled into a feature-length afterparty, but spending more than a half hour at a time with these characters only makes them more nauseating. This isn’t a binge watch, it’s a purge watch.

*Despite the title, Insidious: Chapter 3 actually takes place before the events of the first two Insidious films, but rest assured that it’s a cheap rip-off all the same.

Daniel Barnes @ the SN&R/SA Current (3/19 and 3/26 issues)


*After a 2014 dominated by revenge narratives, Argentinean director Damian Szifron’s Oscar-nominated Wild Tales is the revenge film to end all revenge films, a glorious and bonkers blast of visual creativity and storytelling energy, and one of the most purely entertaining films of the year.

*The San Antonio Current published a slightly different edit of my Wild Tales review.

index*David Cameron Mitchell’s deeply unsettling and nightmarishly lucid horror film It Follows feels like Texas Chainsaw Tobe Hooper directing a Richard Linklater rewrite of Under the Skin.

*Although its Sacramento premiere was pushed back, the Israeli courtroom drama Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem is still a minimalist and moving combination of A Separation and Anatomy of a Murder.

index*TV and music video director Yann Demange makes an extremely promising feature debut with the harrowing thriller ’71.


*The slick but superficial Russian hockey documentary Red Army is a 76-minute feature in search of a short film.

*Run All Night has Liam Neeson once again playing a seemingly washed-up alcoholic and deadbeat dad who secretly possesses a particular set of skills, most of which revolve around the ancient art of wasting fools.


*The well-intentioned but shameless anti-bullying drama A Girl Like Her attempts an ill-conceived blend of found footage and faux documentary that never works.


index* = SF Bay Area only


1) It Follows
2) American Sniper
3) Wild Tales
*4) Timbuktu
5) ’71
6) The Hunting Ground
7) What We Do in the Shadows
*8) Selma
*9) The Wrecking Crew
Merchants of Doubt


11) Chappie
12) Still Alice
13) Kingsman: The Secret Service
*14) Leviathan
*15) Living is Easy with Eyes Closed


16) Focus
*17) Danny Collins
18) Run All Night


19) Insurgent
*20) Birdman
21) Fifty Shades of Grey
22) The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
23) The Imitation Game
24) Taken 3
25) A Girl Like Her
26) The Gunman

HAVEN’T SEEN (in alphabetical order)

*Deli Man
Do You Believe?
Get Hard
*An Honest Liar
Jupiter Ascending
The Lazarus Effect
*Magician: The Astonishing/Orson Welles
McFarland, USA
Night at the Museum 2
*Salad Days
*Seymour: An Introduction
*Song of the Sea
The Spongebob Movie
Strange Magic
That Thing Called Tadhana
*3 Hearts
*Welcome to New York

This list is updated every Thursday. The rankings reflect the opinion of Daniel Barnes only. All films playing in Sacramento area theaters are listed, as well as select films playing exclusively in the San Francisco Bay Area.