The idea of spoofing 80s horror films was once a novel idea that, like all things, has become stale and played out. So when I first heard of The Final Girls, I was less than thrilled. But after watching the trailer, I decided to give this film a shot, and I am happy to admit I’m a better horror fan for it.
At the onset, we are introduced to Max and her mother Amanda, who was once a promising actor but is now in her forties, and the prospect of starring roles are long behind her. Max is quickly established as the responsible one in the relationship by her keeping track of her mother’s piling bills… to which her mother responds very maturely by throwing them out the car window. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the film: at its heart, The Final Girls is a mother/daughter bonding tale disguised as an 80s slasher. The two immediately show this bond when they lip-sing “Bette Davis Eyes.” It’s one of many scenes that caught me off guard, because we rarely see this kind of heart in a horror film.
Sadly, Max and Amanda wind up in a horrific accident, and we are fast-forwarded to three years later. Amanda was killed in the accident, leaving Max basically alone, other than her small group of friends. Her best friend’s stepbrother Duncan, a huge fan of Max’s mother’s 80s flick “Bloodbath,” convinces her to make an appearance at the local theater that is running the movie for a special anniversary event. She reluctantly agrees, and is accompanied by her love interest Chris, her best friend Gertie, and Chris’s ex girlfriend Vickie. Through a Final Destination-worthy accident, Max and her friends are forced into the movie screen, and transported into the film.
And this is when The Final Girl finds its groove. Max and her friends quickly realize they are trapped in the movie, the rules of reality are void, and the only rules that matter here are those of slasher film lore. Max’s interactions with the stereotypical characters/counselors of Bloodbath are one of the film’s biggest strengths. We have the jock Kurt, the nerd Blake, the slut Tina, and the shy girl Nancy — who is also Max’s mother. Max instantly projects her mother onto the character, and decides that the only way to get her mother back is to keep Nancy alive until the credits roll. Sounds easy. And it would be, if they weren’t stalked by Billy Murphy, an obvious ode to Jason Vorhees.
The remainder of the film is packed with 80s horror goodness, like Max trying to keep the slutty chick from taking off her clothes because bare boobs trigger Billy’s arrival, to a great slow-motion scene that sees Billy crash through a window while on fire. Plus, the film’s score is amazing, sells every scene, and is an integral part of what makes this film work, much like the music of It Follows. There’s some pretty sweet fight choreography reminiscent of the Highlander series too, and the film even ends with an epic throwback that had me on my feet, fist bumping the air, throwing up metal horns like a dork.
If you’re a fan of the golden era of slashers, see this film! If you like to feel invested in your horror movie characters, see this film! Yes, you read that correctly: The Final Girls has moments of true human emotion that reminded me of the junkyard scene in Toy Story 3. They feel totally earned due to the superb acting by the cast, and they blend perfectly with the horror and satire laced throughout the film’s 88-minute run time. If you want to see the best horror/comedy film of the last ten years, check this one out.
Moan4Stallone is the keeper of Laser Time scares and screams. Hit him up on Twitter to talk terror!