THE FINAL GIRLS is the movie you have been waiting for and missing all your life. If you do nothing else this weekend, seek it out. At the theater, on VOD, whatever. You need to get this film in your face as soon as possible. I mean it.
This is a movie that was made for us. The people who have watched FRIDAY THE 13TH and HALLOWEEN and THE BURNING and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and a hundred other films so many times we have the dialogue memorized. And then we just watch them again. THE FINAL GIRLS celebrates slasher horror and its fans and serves as a send up to all of the tropes and conventions that have been put into practice so many times that they have now become cliches (but that doesn't stop us from nodding in approval every time they come onscreen). It's a film that slaps us high-fives for knowing every second of corny dialogue that passes in between kill scenes, for reveling in each and every brutal death and for cheering when the killer is finally vanquished in the last reel. This movie is for the fans.
But it isn't simply fan service. Writers Joshua John Miller, M.A. Fortin and director Todd Strauss-Schulson go beyond making a film that simply winks knowingly at the camera. Instead, they inject it with something true. THE FINAL GIRLS succeeds and its poised to cement its place in the hearts and minds of genre buffs everywhere not only because it is a shitload of genre fun, but also because when you strip all that horror nerdery away, it carries a very touching and sentimental story beneath.
Taissa Farmiga stars as Max, a teenager still reeling from the death of her mother (Malin Akerman) three years prior. Her mother had been an actress Camp Bloodbath, one of the seminal slasher flicks on the 1980s, and as much as she tried, she could never quite step out of its shadow and pursue a career outside low budget horror roles. On the anniversary of her mother's death, Max is invited to a screening of the seminal film and reluctantly accepts, knowing that she can't grieve forever and this at least offers her a chance to see her mother again for a few minutes.
When a fire breaks out inside the theater, Max and her friends try to exit and seek safety by cutting their way through the movie screen, and instead, are brought into the story and the world of CAMP BLOODBATH itself. The group must survive the attacks from Billy, the crazed killer who stalks camp and murders counselors, obeying the rules and traditions set forth by the grandfather of camp slasher films, and hopefully make it through to the final reel.
Of course, we have seen these tropes analyzed and played with before (SCREAM, BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS), but never quite in this way. This film plays with convention by bringing it front and center and embracing it as a part of the story. Not only are Max and her friends in the story, they are in the actual movie itself - with black and white flashback effects, slow motion, title cards, sound effects, you name it. They are in it, yet they are simultaneously aware of everything that makes it a movie. The film doesn't simply dissect and poke fun at the tropes - it actively embraces them as the characters are forced to survive in the world of a slasher film.
As fun as all of this is (and it is tons of fun, trust me) what really gives this film its magic is the relationship between Max and her mother/her mother's character, Nancy. When Max enters the world of the film, suddenly she has her mother back, in a way, and has the opportunity to save her as she was never able to do in her real life. The connection between these characters is really powerful and affecting. Farmiga and Akerman hit every note perfectly and don't waste a second. They build an incredible bond between these characters and make you feel it. No joke - I actually got teary for a few minutes. The film is surprisingly heart touching, and takes full advantage of using these smaller character moments to give the movie a soul.
THE FINAL GIRLS is a blast. It pays massive tribute and love to its influences, while still telling an entertaining, yet touching story of its very own. It is really one of the most fun films you are going to see this Halloween and is something that will absolutely resonate with fans for years to come.