While The Final Girls is subject to many ridiculing Letterboxd reviews, for me, it’s an incredible experience. Although by no means is it a unique cinematic feat, it does what it sets out to do remarkably well. Part spoof and part homage, The Final Girls blends several genres (horror, comedy, and heartwarming family drama) neatly into a ninety minute runtime, meaning there’s never a dull moment.
In the same way that the film itself seamlessly blends horror and comedy, the cast is chock-a-block with names from both ends of this spectrum. Taissa Farmiga—of American Horror Story and The Nun fame, although one of those possibly is more of a credit than the other—is perfect as Max, the grieving daughter of a washed up scream queen. What’s more, her chemistry with Malin Åkerman adds a tragic edge to the film. For comedic purposes, we have Alia Shawkat who is most notable for her role as Maeby Fünke in Arrested Development, playing another very similar character as Max’s best friend. Adam Devine also makes an appearance, and Thomas Middleditch graces our screens once more as the loveable weirdo of the group.
The storyline is another standout. Waking up inside an alternate universe is always fun; waking up inside an 80s horror movie starring your mom-who-doesn’t-know-she’s-your-mom and being trapped there until you participate is taking that to a whole new level. In classic slasher fashion, this film is set at a summer camp populated entirely by walking talking stereotypes: the final girl, the sweet one, the promiscuous one, the malevolent spirit of a mistreated camper. What more could you want? When these characters begin to take on lives of their own, and start ignoring every convention that suggests they should have died ten minutes ago, it’s a wonder they even made it past the title screen.
Of course, without the relationships between the characters, this film wouldn’t be so impactful. It’s a fun slasher with a wacky plot that uses both physical comedy and ridiculous jokes to its advantage, but the heart wrenching journeys of Max and her mother is what made it stick. A sense of grief underlies the entire film as Max fights to survive, as well as for some form of closure. It’s a hard balance to find, between tragedy and comedy, but The Final Girls absolutely hits the jackpot.
When I watched it—searching mainly for background noise while I did something else—I assumed it would be one of those films you watched because there was nothing better to do, and then promptly forgot about as soon as the credits rolled. But that was not the case. One of the finer horror comedies I’ve seen, the film somehow manages to be simultaneously mindless entertainment and incredibly thought provoking. And it made me want to give my mum a hug.
Words by Georgia Keenan-Hill
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