Actors: Alexander Ludwig, Malin Akerman, Nina Dobrev, Alia Shawkat, Taissa Farmiga
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Producers: Michael London, Janice Williams
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Spanish, English
Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Thai, Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Run Time: 91 minutes
In Carol Clover’s crucial critical analysis of feminism in the horror genre in her book, “Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film,” the critic popularized the term ‘final girl’ in reference to the sole survivor within the slasher sub-genre. This ‘final girl’ is typically seen to survive due to the purity of her character (no drinking, drugs, or sex), enforcing the conservative ideology of Reagan’s America during the 1980s even further by showing the bloody demise of the characters displaying weaker moral compasses. This is where the significance of the title for The Final Girls originated, though the opportunity to reference classic slasher horror films is wasted beyond a basic premise for the rules of horror. None of the postmodern discussion of horror structure extends beyond one simple observation, and this merely feels like a rehashing of better movies, such as Scream and The Cabin in the Woods.
Wes Craven’s Scream laid out several of the rules for horror films, including the moral code needed for survival and the importance of never saying “I’ll be right back.” The Cabin in the Woods addressed the characters (or caricatures) typically found in the horror genre. Each of these films take the analysis of these movies much further than The Final Girls, which would seem entirely derivative without a Last Action Hero twist that inserts ordinary teens into a classic ‘80s slasher. And just like Last Action Hero sanitized the violent content of the genre it was poking fun of, The Final Girls provides a bloodless PG-13 presentation of horror action, which may not sit well with the very fans that the film is attempting to entice.
Using the horror genre to tackle issues of grief with a much lighter tone (and impact) than last year’s The Babadook, The Final Girls follows the daughter of a deceased horror film actress as she is inexplicably inserted into her mother’s famous film. Max (Taissa Farmiga) has avoided
since the tragic death of her mother (Malin Akerman) years earlier, but is
convinced to attend an anniversary screening of the slasher with a group of her
friends. When a fire accidentally breaks out in the theater, Max cuts a hole in
the movie screen to escape the flames. When she and her friends (played by Nina
Dobrev, Alia Shawkat, Alexander Ludwig and Thomas Middleditch) emerge on the
other side of the screen, they find that they have somehow entered into the
world of Camp Bloodbath . Camp Bloodbath
While this opens the film up for endless opportunities to point out the ‘rules’ of the genre in order to survive, The Final Girls is content to focus on the same gags throughout the entire film. The only rule that only seems to matter has to do with sex and nudity, which this film has none of despite it being the only factor in the arrival of the killer. In the end, it feels like a parody of horror movies written by someone who has only seen Scream and other postmodern mock-ups of the genre rather than the films that are actually meant to inspire its content. The Final Girls is more of a film about a fantasy situation that allows Max to overcome the grief over her deceased mother. Even when this works moderately well, somehow I doubt that viewers are likely to be excited at the success of the film’s melodrama at the detriment to its action, comedy, and horror.
Visually speaking, The Final Girls has a stylized approach that is impressive for its budget, despite an uneven quality. Occasionally the movie has a soft focus look that lets us know we are in a fake universe, while other times it seems to be attempting the scratched look of a film print with decades of wear on it. Despite these inconsistencies, the film looks impressively polished on high definition Blu-ray disc. Also included are plenty of extras, with an assortment of additional footage, commentaries, and featurettes about the production elements. There is an alternate ending, as well as deleted and extended scenes, each with an optional director’s commentary. Also included are two feature-length commentary tracks, with the cast and crew in one and the two screenwriters making up the second. The featurettes seem to focus on the visual style and effects, though there is also a copy of the director’s production notes included.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 4/10