The Final Girls

(The gist: Put simply, I adored The Final Girls. From the comedy to the cheeky pokes at the horror genre to the emotional undertones to especially the brilliant cinematography. It was fun from the opening credits to the closing, and all the faux ones in between. Beg for it in theaters, and watch it now!)

No lead in necessary. I loved The Final GirlsThe Final Girls is everything I love about a horror comedy or a genre satire.

I attended The Final Girls as the closing night feature of the Stanley Film Festival. By this point, my mind was a wasteland of horror fragments and lingering nightmares. I had concerns that I was fried or mentally drained, yet my wits remained razor sharp under the flashing scenes of The Final Girls.

In The Final Girls, Max loses her mother during a car crash. Three years later, her best friend’s stepbrother begs her to make an appearance at a screening of her mother’s 80s slasher flick, Camp Bloodbath. Things go horribly awry during the movie, and the five friends flee a fire in the theater, ending up trapped with the movie itself.

The premise of the movie is entertaining enough. How many times have you imagined yourself inside the movie you are watching? How many times have you said, “Oh I would have done that”? I do it potentially with every movie I watch, especially the really good bad horror movies (like 80s slasher flicks). Constructing the plot this way allowed for so much comedy and enabled an internal examination of classic horror archetypes.

The Final Girls seemed reminiscent of Scream for me, which has a special place in my heart as my very first horror movie, the one that started it all. Yet it was more campy, more blatantly a comedy. The jokes are more direct, less satirical, but the essence is still shared, and it is an element that I greatly enjoy.

Yet The Final Girls is surprisingly multilayered. You enter expecting cheap comedy; however, camouflaged beneath the silly exterior is a deeply emotional story. The loss of Max’s mother is heart wrenching, and when Max encounters her mother’s character within the movie, it is impossible not to empathize with how simultaneously excruciating and elating it must be to see her one more time. My eyes welled up at more than one scene. In a horror comedy. And this emotionality is accomplished seamlessly, blending and melding with both the comedy and the horror.

Put simply, The Final Girls is a well-balanced picture, satisfying the need for horror, comedy, and emotion, which is a surprising yet refreshing combination.

Secondary only to the execution of the plot is the cinematography. I am, by no measure, a film expert or an experienced film critic; I am just a writer who loves horror and has definite opinions about the movies I watch. Yet the visuals in The Final Girls made me want to find my inner cinephile.

A couple of sequences just had me wide eyed, brought me a sense of visual wonderment. In particular, the car accident, the setting of the theater fire, and one fight sequence with Billy (the Jason Voorhees equivalent). Each of these scenes are just visually stunning, shot in innovative ways and from new and interesting angles. I, a film layperson, could appreciate the craft infused into what I was seeing. Beyond these specific scenes, the movie is just vibrant and a unique visual experience.

I cannot express quite adequately how much I appreciated The Final Girls for encapsulating everything I love and enjoy about the horror genre.

At the behest of director Todd Strauss-Schulson, I say, Sony Pictures, I hope you are listening because I want to be able to take all my horror loving friends to The Final Girls in a theater near me.