Who doesn’t love the 80’s? And especially the seemingly hilarious violence and over-the-top way that films addressed their genres at the time?
I personally am glad to have grown up at a time when claymation and other practical effects were still the norm, because when you watched something, you had to rely on your imagination to fill in the gaps.
And for the most part, movie magic worked. But sometimes it didn’t, and sometimes tropes would develop.
But this week’s review addresses those pop culture pieces in an interesting way.
The Final Girls (2015)
Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Alexander Ludwig, Nina Dobrev, Alia Shawkat, Thomas Middleditch
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
released on blu-ray November 3, 2015
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%, Audience Score 74%
The Guardian: N/A
I don’t know much about Todd Strauss-Schulson. I had to struggle a bit to learn about his directing history.
Highlights include A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas and a few episodes of The Inbetweeners. Like I said, not a lot to go on.
But that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Holy Moses, this movie was interesting. As a fan of satire, and all things meta, this effort by Strauss-Schulson really is a loveletter to 80’s horror films, as Sam Raimi has put it.
If you liked Scream or Cabin In the Woods, this movie will be right up your alley folks. I promise.
But let me paint you a written picture and you can start to see for yourself.
The movie starts out with Max Cartwright (Taissa Farmiga) waiting in the car for her mother Amanda (Malin Akerman). Amanda has just returned from an audition where she likely didn’t get the part because the director recognized her from “Camp Bloodbath,” an infamous ’80s horror film she starred in almost 20 years prior.
On the way home the two get into a car accident and unfortunately Amanda doesn’t survive the crash.
Fast forward three years later, on the anniversary of her mom’s death, and Max is studying with her friend Gertie. They are also discussing that Chris (Alexander Ludwig) has just broken up with Vicki (Nina Dobrev) and how it is Max’s opportunity to show her interest as Chris will be tutoring Max.
Enter Duncan (Thomas Middleditch), Gertie’s stepbrother and avid fan of the Camp Bloodbath franchise. He is there to convince Max to join in the back-to-back screening of the first two films at a local theatre and make an appearance for the fans. He eventually wins her over and Max, Gertie, and Duncan go to the show. Chris has decided to come and support Max as well, knowing it is a sensitive subject for her. And Vicki shows up too, pretending to not be there specifically to see Chris and win him back.
Once the movie finally does start, in a very cool effect, some audience members accidentally start a fire. In a bid to escape the fire, Max and her friends decide to rip through the movie screen, and are transported to Camp Bloodbath.
Once they realize they are trapped inside the film, they pass themselves off as counselors, hoping to figure out a way out of the movie and avoid getting killed by the crazy Billy Murphy (Camp Bloodbath’s antagonist). Both we and the group quickly realize that they will have to deal with horror movie tropes if they want to make it out alive – concepts of final girls, sex equating to death, and flashbacks litter the world they inhabit.
Without giving too much away, I think you will really enjoy this one.
Being a fan of horror movies and satire should help you connect with the story, as it is a little slow to start, but there is a surprising amount of heart in The Final Girls, and you can’t help but root for everybody to make it through. All the while laughing at the way the tropes are dealt with.
Part of me wishes I had watched a couple of these slasher flicks just ahead of sitting down to enjoy this movie, but I’ve got a good enough memory of Friday the 13th and other 1980s horror to get the references.
Pros: The relationship between Max and her mother is incredibly sweet, and the dialogue between Max and Nancy, the character Amanda plays is incredibly interesting and will warm your horror desensitized heart. And while mostly one-dimensional, almost all of the minor characters are quite fun to watch
Cons: There is surprisingly very little sex or violence in this film, which is a convention of the genre, I wish Stauss-Schulson had been able to add more of this content and found ways to flip those details on their head, but SONY wanted a PG-13 rating.
Runtime: 88 minutes
Points of Interest: The Final Girls is the same runtime length as Camp Bloodbath. This film was co-written by Joshua John Miller, whose father, Jason Miller had passed away recently, and starred as Father Karras in The Exorcist.
I don’t know what else to say about this movie that I haven’t already said. If you want to see a genre-bending film, check this out. If you’d rather stick to the confines of what has been established already, The Final Girls probably isn’t for you.
With that said, I expect you’ve enjoyed this review dear readers. Have you enjoyed the variety of films I’ve looked at so far? Are you hoping for something else? Science Fiction perhaps? Adventure? Leave some comments!