Every now and then a movie comes along and goes beyond what it should be. It breaks genre lines and surprisingly finds a place in your heart. “The Final Girls” slashes its way into that special place.
At first glance it would be easy to ascribe “The Final Girls” to a place amongst common horror fair. I had no idea what to expect going in but early on it appeared to be a horror movie and I accepted that I was going to get that. However this feeling was soon jolted away with clever, motivated camera techniques and a story that was touching throughout. “The Final Girls” is so much more than just that.
“The Final Girls” tells the story of Max Cartwright and her mother Amanda, who happens to be a cult hero for her role as Nancy in a classic slasher film, “Camp Bloodbath.” For background, a final girl is the last survivor in a horror film. Nancy, the character Amanda Cartwright plays, is not a final girl. She dies early on in “Camp Bloodbath.” While attending a throwback movie night where “Camp Bloodbath” is featured, Max is sucked into that world. Soon Max is forced to deal with loss and come to grips with a world in which her life is turned upside down and face loss literally and figuratively.
While it might sound confusing, the film is easy to follow and does a bang up job of keeping tone throughout. But just how good of a job? Lets see shall we.
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 5
One of the first things you will notice while watching “The Final Girls” is how visually unique some of the scenes are. Camera movements are motivated and have purpose. In addition to that everything from the colors and the composition seems fresh. I really enjoyed what Director Todd Strauss-Shulman accomplished on an indie budget. The vision for the film is clear despite the on screen chaos that is unfolding.
In terms of acting, Mhuhaa (that’s a kiss to the performances), they are great. Malin Ackerman is great and endearing as Amanda Cartwright, the mom, as well as her canon fodder role as Nancy in the slasher film. Taissa Farmiga is perfect. She has the tough, yet wounded quality that lends itself to a story about growth. She also has the girl next-door look, which is exactly what the story calls for. Supporting actors like Adam Devine and Thomas Middleditch are great at providing comic relief. The whole cast seemed to be having fun and that comes through in film.
The effects and score also were spot on. They are also motivated and drive the emotion. You will be impressed by what this movie achieves visually. What’s even more impressive is the sound design. Todd Strauss-Shulman mentioned at a recent screening that he worked very closely with the sound team on the score so it’s no surprise that it is equally as engaging. All in all the film is full of cinematic win.
Entertainment Value – 5
Fun. That is the one word I would use to describe this movie. From the beginning with the 80s stylized trailer to the roll of the credits the movie is engaging. The use of many different story-telling techniques is unique. The slow-motion, the wrap around shots, and the tracking shots all drive the film and make it fun to watch. The play between the characters is great. Especially Thomas Middleditch and Adam Devine.
As horror films go this would be a good one. It hits all the marks and has all the telltale signs but the fact that it is not a horror movie brings something new to the table. Just when you thought you got the hang of what’s going on something changes or shifts and you are engaged all over again.
With elements of all major horror films Easter egged within, this film is fun just for that reason. “Groundhog Day” moments make it interesting as well and the visual effects are just icing on the cake. It’s definitely entertaining to watch a well-made, creative, risk-taking venture like this. Fun might actually be an understatement.
Rewatchability – 4
I enjoyed this movie a great deal. In fact I recommend it for those Netflix and Chill nights that have become so prevalent nowadays. Looking for all the Easter eggs and hidden goodies will keep viewers coming back for repeated viewings. Between the hidden horror stuff and the nuanced comedy “The Final Girls” is definitely a Blu-ray worthy purchase to pull out for friends who haven’t seen it. You won’t have a problem sitting through it again to catch it all when showing it to a new audience.
(My Re-watch –ability chart)
- 0=Pretend I never saw it and have no desire to
- 1=Never watching again
- 2=Would probably sit through if it popped up on HBO or FX
- 3=Would DVR it and watch again or recommend to watch with a friend
- 4=wouldn’t mind killing time to see it in the theater again. In fact I would like to do that
- 5=I am going to see this in the theater again, maybe twice more as well as stop what I am doing and watch every time it is on TV.)
- Entertainment Value
"The Final Girls" does some creative things with a genre that can at times seem hacked to death. The look and feel of the movie keep you engaged throughout and is a lot of fun! Malin Ackerman and Taissa Farmiga are a great mother daughter team and the supporting cast keeps it lively. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and definitely recommend it. Hopefully "The Final Girls" gets a sequel.