THE FINAL GIRLS
Wow! Seriously where did this film come from? It just seemed to come out of nowhere, and turned out to be the perfect love letter to the 80's slasher genre, whilst also being filled with heart and actual genuine emotion. I was expecting little from this film but ended up adoring it (and frankly am a little ashamed that I couldn't find a spot for it on my top twenty list).
The story of “The Final Girls” is about Max, a teenage girl whose mother passed away recently in a car accident. Back in the eighties, Max's mother was one of the stars of a cheesy slasher film that has since become a cult classic entitled “Camp Bloodbath”, and now on that film's twentieth anniversary, Max has been invited to a screening of the film and to be its special guest. Max is nervous about it, but ends up going to the screening as a way to see her mother again. However during the screening, a fire breaks out in the cinema and through the panic, people start to get trampled heading for the exits. Max decides to use the hidden back entrance behind the screen and her and her friends slash the screen and head to safety. Where they end up is not outside, but strangely in the film that they were just watching. As insane as it sounds, Max and her friends are stuck in “Camp Bloodbath” that plays like a continuous loop, and whilst at first all they want to do is leave (except for the horror nerd), Max has a change of heart when the character her mum plays enters the film and she gets to be with her once again. However this family reunion is short lived because remember, this is a slasher film and there is a killer picking the characters off one by one. So while everyone tries to survive (knowing they are trapped within the films rules), Max is also trying to figure out a way to bring her mother home to safety, instead of being brutally butchered by our killer.
Normally when you hear that someone is making an eighties throwback, you feel like letting out a bit of a groan, because so many of them fail. People seem to be able to duplicate the look of these films, but that is about it, and a lot of them end up sending up or making fun of these films. “The Final Girls” is different in that it gets every detail just spot on. From the acknowledgement of the poor dialogue and acting, to the look of it all, to the gore effects, to the sexist attitude towards women, to the silent killer himself, to the naivety that these films all had; its all there and whilst there is the acknowledgement of the campy elements of these films past, they are never made fun of. This truly feels like a love letter to a type of film that can no longer be made any more, quite simply because they were a product of their time. As great as all this is, the best and most surprising element of “The Final Girls” that makes this film stand out is the heart and emotion behind it all which is done via the mother/daughter relationship between Max and Amanda. It is so beautifully done, and so heartbreaking that even in this bizarre almost “Twilight Zone” world, you can feel a real love between them, and when the ending comes it hits you with an emotional wallop not usually felt in this genre.
I should point out that this is actually a horror/comedy and like the rest of the film, the comedy aspect of it just works (well the majority of it does). I got great amusement out of characters tripping over on-screen text whilst they are walking, or hearing the scary music whenever the killer was around. Being bound by the films rules just added to some great and funny moments like when the characters are stuck in a slow motion scene and they all talked very slowly, or when they get stuck in a flashback and everything becomes black and white, totally confusing the characters “new” to the film, whilst a voice-over plays above them. My favourite joke though was towards the end when they all come up with a plan to beat the killer and within seconds the dumb sexy girl ruins it due to her clumsiness. The only issue I have with the film, and it is not a big one, is that it should have been made with an R-rating in mind. As it is, it has been rated PG-13, and as such all of the sexual situations and nudity have been shot in a way where nothing is seen. It really doesn't hurt the film at all, except the films that “The Final Girls” is honouring were all rated R and were known for their tits and arse, as well as their blood and guts.
Over the years, I can imagine that the reputation of “The Final Girls” will only grow because it is a fantastic movie, that is held together by great performances (I forgot to mention just how great Taissa Farmiga and Malin Akerman are as the mother/daughter pair) and a love and respect to a type of film long gone. A total surprise that I recommend to all.