Horror films from the ’80s are being remade, with The Poltergeist and Evil Dead being two of several, and fans of the horror genre aren’t seeing enough original content. The Final Girls changes that around a bit, throwing in an ’80s slasher film with characters from the 21st century and mashing them together in a fun homage to the genre and to the always memorable scream queens. Director Todd Strauss-Schulson (A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas) combines new and old and manages to maintain a core relationship between the lead characters, creating a fun horror spoof with an emotional core that you can get on board with.

Max (Taissa Farmiga) and her actress mother Amanda (Malin Akerman) are very close. Amanda is frustrated that she can’t land any new acting jobs because all she’s known for is being a scream queen in the ’80s horror flick “Camp Bloodbath”. Max is encouraging, but after a fatal car accident that takes her mother away from her, Max is never the same. Three years later, super geeky horror fan Duncan (Thomas Middleditch) convinces a reluctant Max to attend a special anniversary screening of her mother’s most famous film.

After the theater catches fire and blocks the only exits, Max and her friends (Alexander Ludwig, Alia Shawkat, and Nina Dobrev) escape through the slashed theater screen. But outside isn’t where they find themselves. Instead, they somehow (the whys are never given) somehow land in the movie itself and are forced to watch and interact with the film’s characters (Adam DeVine, Chloe Bridges, Angela Trimbur, Tory N. Thompson, and the movie version of Max’s mom). Thinking they are just casual observers of the plot, they become very much a part of it when psycho killer Billy (Dan B. Norris) begins his vengeful bloodbath.

If you go into The Final Girls without any sort of expectation, you will find yourself pleasantly surprised. You don’t even have to be a fan of the horror genre in particular to enjoy what Strauss-Schulson presents. There are several wonderful little technical effects that enhance the story from being a simple slasher. The film’s main relationship between Farmiga and Akerman is established from the very beginning and drives the film to its end without overshadowing the horror aspect and gives the women time to shine in a genre that doesn’t always give them the benefit of the doubt. The film is very meta with its movie within a movie aspect and this acknowledgement by the characters that they are not in the real world makes their interactions with the secondary characters all the more knowing. It can easily be compared to an audience watching a horror movie and knowing full well what will happen to everyone, but are unable to do anything about it.

The film is a fun venture into the world of horror without overdoing the dark, gory, and overly creepy aspect that films of this genre are known. It’s very much a homage to scream queens, even going so far to use the word and acknowledge their essential importance in movies like this. It mocks the horror genre’s tropes, with its obsession with virgins, killing off the minority first, and the like. The use of colors and images is fantastic–most especially when the film goes into its “flashbacks”, to the surprise of every character. The Final Girls is an entertaining bit of spoof comedy that has its own strengths and more emotion than the average horror film.

3.5star

 

Release Date: October 9, 2015 | Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson | Screenwriters: M.A. Fortin, Joshua John Miller | Cast: Malin Akerman, Taissa Farmiga, Adam DeVine, Nina Dobrev, Alia Shawkat, Alexander Ludwig, Thomas Middleditch, Angela Trimbur, Chloe Bridges, Tory N. Thomspon, Dan B. Norris | Genre: Comedy, Horror | MPAA Rating: PG-13 for horror violence, some crude and sexual material, language and drug use

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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