Film, In Review: The Final Girls

It’s Friday night and you’re home alone. You’ve turned all the lights down low and decided to entertain yourself with a horror film. Twenty minutes in, you’ve unmasked the big bad and all is going well. Then the wind howls a little louder and the door creaks a little farther and a shape wavers in your peripheral…

Malin Akerman (Amanda Cartwright/Nancy) in "The Final Girls"

Malin Akerman (Amanda Cartwright/Nancy) in “The Final Girls”

Your pulse rises as you turn your head in time to see your neighbour’s cat sitting languidly on your kitchen table unaware of the sink shower you’re about to give it. In Todd Strauss-Schulson’s “The Final Girls”, bloodcurdling screams and taunting unawares are only the beginning for our unabashed heroine Max when she, along with her merry band of friends, are transported into the world of a cult horror film.


Nina Dobrev (Vicky Summers) and Alia Shawkat (Gertie Michaels) in “The Final Girls”

Max Cartwright (Taissa Farmiga) wants nothing more than to pass her Classics course and graduate high school without the death of her film star mother (Malin Akerman) burdening her every waking moment. Her best friend Gertie Michaels (Alia Shawkat) offers a few outlandish distractions yet conveniently disappears whenever the sight of Max’s lust interest Chris Briggs (Alexander Ludwig) appears into view; his ex-girlfriend Vicki Summers (Nina Dobrev) never lingering too far behind.  An irresistible proposal by Gertie’s step brother Duncan (Thomas Middleditch) leads Max to reluctantly attend the three year anniversary screening of ‘Camp Bloodbath’, the film that propelled Max’s starlet mother to cult fame. At the premiere, a ferocious fire erupts forcing the gang to escape through the theatre’s movie screen which inevitably transports them into the world of ‘Camp Bloodbath’. In the film, summer councillors must find a way to survive at the hands of Billy Murphy; a vengeful boy who now seeks his revenge on councillors who possess an insatiable sexual appetite.  For 90 minutes, Max and her Scooby Gang must try survive Billy’s wrath to return home, return to the real world, return alive…

Alexander Ludwig (Chris Briggs), Taissa Farmiga (Max Cartwright), Nina Dobrev (Vicky Summers), Thomas Middleditch (Duncan), Alia Shawkat (Gertie Michaels) in "The Final Girls)

Alexander Ludwig (Chris Briggs), Taissa Farmiga (Max Cartwright), Nina Dobrev (Vicky Summers), Thomas Middleditch (Duncan), Alia Shawkat (Gertie Michaels) in “The Final Girls)

Supported by the main cast are Adam DeVine, Angela Trimbur, Chloe Bridges, and Tory N. Thompson as ‘Camp Bloodbath’s’ sexually promiscuous councillors.

“Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, written by M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller, “The Final Girls” offers audiences a delectable treat in its brandish satire of the horror genre; a genre that is known for perpetuating fear but also having the ability to teeter on the side of humour when rightly exaggerated.”

Moments of tension, for instance, are mercilessly exaggerated for the sake of disbelief and by omission are less frightful.

The brilliance of “The Final Girls” is that the film’s satire makes Billy’s underlying terror equally hilarious and terrifying.  We watch his crusade through the eyes of the camp councillors but also through the eyes of our main characters that can do nothing to stop him. As a result, hindrances emerge when both universes collide and the consequences are advantageous as they are detrimental. Max’s judgement, for instance, is instantly clouded by the presence of her mother who is alive in the land of make believe, but deceased in reality. The interaction between all the characters moreover, changes the film’s atmosphere but only to a certain degree. In the real world, our own tales of horror, tragedy, and romance are still being written. Our Scooby gang therefore, has to forego their disbelief and assume that the world that they are physically living in could collapse at any moment even if they know how it ends.

Cinematically, the film’s essence lies in its allure of 80’s slasher flick tropes but the emotional elements, the ones Max shares with her pseudo mother are also enticing. With each sequence, “The Final Girls” then, never fails to remind audiences that the world of horror is just as malicious as it is ridiculous.


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