DVD Releases: The Rachels (2018) - Reviewed

Are you ready for The Rachels?

Over the last few decades, the secret lives popular teenage girls lead have been the basis for countless films, television series and books. Much like their subjects, these pieces range from saccharine sweet to dark and biting, giving outsiders an interesting view into what they might have missed if they weren’t among the chosen few in their high school days. Like a combination of Heathers, Mean Girls and the woefully underrated Jawbreaker, director Michael Civille's The Rachels takes a darkly funny look at the inner workings of popular, beautiful high school girls, and the hell they put other students, and themselves, through on a daily basis. While screenwriter Ellen Huggins doesn't break any new ground with her script, she does provide an entertaining, twisted entry to the genre that's geared towards a younger generation.

The Rachels tells the story of, you guessed it, two Rachels, who are lifelong BFFs and current Queen Bees of their school. Rachel Nelson, played by Madison Iseman (the hot girl not named Karen Gillian in Jumanji) is the perfect prom queen, unattainably beautiful and popular, but friendly and kind enough that everyone seems to think they're her friend. Her cohort is the decidedly more vicious and icy Rachel Richardson, played by Caitlin Carver (recently famous for "Why Me"-ing as Nancy Kerrigan in I, Tonya), who no one ever mistakes for a friend, save for the other Rachel. Iseman's softness and warmth are a great counterpoint to Carver's impeccably despicable portrayal of the nastiest pretty girl you've ever met. Iseman shines, but it's really Carver's show, and she runs with it. The rest of the film is as well cast as the titular roles, namely Daniela Bobadilla's Roxy, the Rachels' nemesis, whose thirst for revenge is the perfect addition to round out the story.

The biggest problem with the film is its failure to capitalize on a true goldmine at its fingertips, social media. Had the interesting, voyeuristic narrative style of recent social media horror gem, Unfriended, been utilized even a little bit, it could have given The Rachels a boost in originality. Seeing a film's characters through their social media profiles, or video chatting in Skype is still fresh enough to give the audience a little thrill, and it could have made this film into something more than a hybrid of its forefathers.

Clearly aiming to be the Heathers of this generation, The Rachels is solidly written, acted and shot, but it hasn’t done anything to really set it apart. While it will play well with the audience it's intended for, I can't imagine it's done enough to earn a coveted spot in the re-watch rotation with the films it's inspired by. 

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-Josie Stec