The Final Girls: A fitting tribute to the camp slasher
Movie Review – The Final Girls
Isn’t it nice —and very rare— when things turn out the way you want them to? I dearly remember the many Friday nights spent with my friends watching one slasher after another when we were around 15, we mostly watched the big franchises back then, Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street. Those days is where it all started, what later brought me to discover the more obscure films, and so ever since I saw the trailer for The Final Girls early this year I was stoked with the idea behind the film and excited about what, if well-executed, could come out of it.
Max’s mother was the star of an 80s slasher that became ultra popular. Three years later, after her mother unexpectedly dies in a car crash, Max continues to grieve her but is blackmailed into attending a local screening of her mom’s cult classic ‘Camp Bloodbath’, by her best friend’s step-brother Duncan. When Max and said best friend Gertie show up at the theater, they stumble upon Chris, the guy Max likes, who unfortunately also has his bitchy ex-girlfriend Vicki in tow.
The theatre catches fire as the result of an accident from some careless drinking and smoking and with the intention of exiting through the back door, Max takes a machete that a fan drops on the floor and – in an amazingly shot sequence – rips the movie screen at the same time that the killer in the film strikes. By some unexplained magic, when she and her group of friends jump through, they get transported into the world of ‘Camp Bloodbath’.
Turns out well-executed doesn’t even begin to describe The Final Girls! From the very first sequence, where we get treated to a grindhouse-style trailer for ‘Camp Bloodbath’ that mostly spoofs the Friday the 13th series, it’s evident that the film will use the genre’s classic summer camp setting with its “sex will always get you killed” and “only the virgin can survive” rules to its advantage.
On the technical side, director Todd Strauss-Schulson brings his A-game with some slick camera moves and solid visuals, and a lot of the credit goes to writers M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller because they obviously knew their source material and what they were doing. The crew over at the Scream Queens TV show should be taking notes about how to make fun of a genre without disrespecting it or its audience.
As a result of these efforts put together and the great casting of Taissa Farmiga in the lead as Max, The Final Girls is extremely smart, consistently funny and respectful of the material it’s mocking, I was laughing through almost the entire film. The film was justly awarded the Special Jury Award and the Award for Best Screenplay at the Sitges Film Festival this year, and even horror icon Stephen King recently commented on its charm on his Twitter account.
THE FINAL GIRLS is really great, a sweet horror movie spoof that winds up feeling like MOONRISE KINGDOM.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 15, 2015
In addition, not content with only staying a satire, the story takes moments along the way for serious character development that pays off when the movie brilliantly changes tone from the funny to the dramatic, by unfolding Max’s relationship with her mother’s character inside ‘Camp Bloodbath’, to deliver a heartfelt story about death and the ways we deal with loss.
Very well put together and thought out, this is an excellent movie especially, but not only, for horror fans. And more importantly, The Final Girls is the tribute that the camp slasher subgenre that many of us grew up watching rightly deserves.
The Final Girls (2015)
Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson
Tags: comedy, horror, movie review, movies