THE FINAL GIRLS
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Year of release: 2015
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 88 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Tagline: "They loved horror movies. Until they got stuck in one".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: On the anniversary of her Mom’s death surviving daughter Max along with her friends attends a special screening of cult eighties horror film Camp Bloodbath. The film features Max’s late mother in the starring role and is the feature she was most known for as an actress prior to her untimely demise in a car crash. After a fire breaks out in the cinema causing widespread panic Max’s group are somehow sucked into the film as they try to escape the blaze.
Trapped within the movie they soon find the action they are familiar with from the silver screen unfolding around them. Teaming up with the Camp Bloodbath protagonists they begin battling masked villain Billy in an effort to stay alive for the duration of the running time. Seeing a second chance to spend time with her Mother Max also does her best to spare the relevant character from the killers clutches.
Good points: *While not a massive fan of comedy in slasher films myself there is a lot of it on offer here for those that enjoy it with humorous characters such as Tina, Duncan and Kurt performing well. The comedy is mostly effective with the teens in particular delivering the goods as they try to use their knowledge as horror buffs to alter the course of things and navigate their way through the various obstacles throughout the scenes.
I did find it to be a little too comedic to the point of being silly at times, not quite going into Scary Movie type territory but not far off. It also seemed a bit too self-aware with the comedy to the point it felt like it was poking too much fun at the slasher genre and it’s fans. It kind of gave me the impression it was trying to ridicule horror fans in the odd moment here and there. That could just be me though. Having said this there are definitely some good jokes and one liners from the likes of Kurt and company so if you do appreciate comedy you may find much to enjoy here.
*Going hand in hand with the previous point like I said there are some entertaining characters, not only the previously mentioned trio but also with others such as Max herself and her friend Gertie. I found it a pleasant change in fact that neither Gertie or brother Duncan were what you would call conventionally attractive. Max is able to show more of an emotional range than we usually see in comedy slashers with the whole business with her Mother which is a bonus. Love interest character Chris is a solid addition to the proceedings as well.
*Reportedly made for around $4.5 million, a decent budget for a slasher the production values are of a high standard throughout. Visually everything falls into place with impressive looking scenes such as the car crash near the beginning, the fire, the flashback scenes and in particular just the way things are strung and edited together once the kids become stuck in the movie. It’s a great looking film.
*Spoiler: I enjoyed the ending with the characters thinking they were safe only to find they were set to go through it all again as they next appeared to be caught in the sequel. It was a pretty clever end to things and tied in well with how the cinema at the start was supposed to be showing a double bill of both Camp Bloodbath films.
Bad Points: *Unfortunately there is virtually no gore at all throughout the film so in this regard it definitely disappoints. It could be said the film is more of a comedy drama first and foremost and a slasher second with the Camp Bloodbath thing just a backdrop and prop to support the story. If looking at it that way we perhaps shouldn’t expect much in the way of blood. Still given how good everything else looks one can’t help feeling a tad disappointed that this doesn’t extend to special effects surrounding the deaths as well.
*The main issue I had with the film and the thing which stopped me from enjoying it all that much was how the Camp Bloodbath film within film looked far too campy and silly so to me it wasn’t believable that it would be an iconic horror film. It was implied it was the horror film of the decade in the same way as something like Friday the 13th, Halloween or Scream in reality but it looked ridiculous in comparison to those classics. To keep in line with the comedy angle they had to go a little over the top I understand but they went too far with it in my view. It’s something I often complain about in these reviews but it was too silly to be believable. Such things as how the killers mask looked stupid and too big for him, the dialogue being too cheesy even for a slasher, characters being overly fixated on sex to the point of being unrealistic all brought it down. In addition I thought it would have been much more logical for Max’s Mother’s character Nancy to have been final girl instead of Paula.
*Spoiler: No explanation is offered as to why the killer Billy can withstand so much damage such as the explosion near the end. After all I don’t think he was supposed to be a supernatural figure but rather just a normal guy burned by some firecrackers in a prank gone wrong. I’m nit picking with this point I know but maybe a little more depth into his character would have been welcome.
Verdict: Although it isn’t going to satisfy everyone wanting a straightforward horror/slasher film it’s still worth a watch and provides a fairly interesting story of a girl struggling to get over her Mother’s death told across a mix of genres. Despite many funny moments however for me it was too silly for it’s own good much of the time. Though this did ruin it for me a little bit it also can be serious when it wants to be and when not taking the comedy too far it does use some slasher staples and clichés to good effect. A lack of any proper blood/gore doesn’t help though it redeems itself somewhat with a strong finish.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
Note: I’m only going to count those that didn’t come back in the hospital scene at the end.
1)Hiker: Neck snapped after meeting female counsellor in the forest.
2)Hippy female counsellor: Killed with machete after starting to undress for hiker.
3)Paula: Killed in car explosion.
4)Tina: Stumbles over trip wire intended for Billy and falls into bear trap.
5)Blake: Stabbed with machete after examining what he thought was Billy’s dead body by antler horns & door.
6)Nancy: Killed on the grass with a machete by a burning Billy.