The Final Girls – Todd Strauss-Schulson, 2015, 15
Netflix rates it: 5/5
I rate it: 5/5
Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls opens with a clip of cheesy 80s slasher film Camp Bloodbath being watched by the leading actress’ daughter Max (Taissa Farmiga), as her mother (Malin Åkerman) attends an audition. After witnessing her mother’s death in a car accident, the film flashes forward three years and shows Max and her friends attending a showing of Camp Bloodbath to honour the anniversary of the fatal accident. After being forced to escape the cinema they end up inside the original film, coming into the camp under the guise of new counsellors. Sounds kind of confusing I know, but it plays out so well on screen! Now in Camp Bloodbath themselves, Max, Gertie (Alia Shawkat), Chris (Alexander Ludwig), Vicki (Nina Dobrev), and Duncan (Thomas Middleditch) must deal with the fact that they’re starring alongside the original cast in the cult 80s slasher flick.
The set-up of the film is interesting, as the audience get to see two different films playing out at the same time. Although technically The Final Girls can be classed as a slasher film, the comedic elements overpower the horror much of the time, making it an entertaining watch even for those who aren’t fond of the horror genre. The best element, though, has to be the way the film manages to intertwine tell-tale slasher stereotypes with more affectionate underlying storylines.
The vivid colour scheme and exaggerated camera shots distinguish the Camp scenes from the real-world scenes in an aesthetically-pleasing manner that is easily noticeable. The over-the-top acting and unnecessarily dramatic death scenes are characteristic of 80s slasher films, and give an authentic feel to the alternative cinematic world the characters end up in. The film score also adds to the dramatic nature in an authentic way. The film’s visual effects are impressive, including an imaginative and effective way of introducing flashback scenes – it’s no surprise that The Final Girls was nominated for a ‘best editing’ award. Knowing references to its time period, and the horror movie tropes that come with it, are made throughout, with Dobrev’s character even saying at one point “I’m the mean girl in the 80s horror movie and we’re past the mid-point,” to justify her possible death. That’s what is so unique and enjoyable about The Final Girls; it takes slasher tropes and uses them to its advantage.
Whereas films of a similar genre, such as the Scream series, focus more on the killer and how to survive, The Final Girls provides a similar mocking take on horror films but does it in a more emotive way, with the focal point being Max’s relationship with her mother’s character in the film. Another interesting part to see is the real-life characters attempting to explain the situation to the film characters, and the way they change the sequence of events in the film.
All in all, The Final Girls gets five stars for its originality; if you’re a fan of horror spoofs but like a good emotional twist, this is one for you.