Tuesday, May 11, 2021

#PopCultureResolution - The Final Girls

The Final Girls

Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson

 92 minutes

Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Nina Dobrev

Release Date: October 9, 2015

Synopsis: Max, recently orphaned, goes to see a screening of a B-horror movie that her mother made 20 years earlier. When Max and her friends find themselves in the world of the film itself, they must apply their knowledge of horror tropes to survive.

Horror movies that lean in to (and make commentary on) tropes are some of my favourites. Scream does this masterfully. It allows the movie to be self aware and adds a little more of a playful tone to the movie. It can still provide the scares, but also supplies the laughs. The Final Girls is cut from this style of movie and embraces its tropes in a very clever way.

The movie's tone comes primarily from having its cast enter a fictional movie within the world it is creating.  This allows for its characters to make commentary on what is happening around them. It allows them to have horror movie knowledge that is used to highlight the genre itself. It creates a scenario in which the audience can easily put themselves in the shoes of these characters and how they would react if they found themselves trapped in the world of a horror movie. That self awareness is exactly why this movie works. It doesn't take itself seriously and that makes for a fun (and funny) time at the movies.

The other element that really works is the cast - particularly the female characters. Taissa Farmiga showcases exactly why she would make an excellent Scream Queen. She is able to be both vulnerable and bad ass.

Also of note are Malin Akerman, Nina Dobrev, and Chloe Bridges who are all equally bad ass in their own way. The movie also allows these characters to support each other in ways I didn't expect to see at the beginning of the movie. I really disliked Vicki (Nina Dobrev's character) at the start of the movie, but ended up appreciating her in the end. Each of them has their moment in a movie that has elements of female empowerment built in to it.

There is plenty of inspiration from classic 80's horror movies to be found here, in particular the Friday the 13th movies. That includes a lot of references to sex and its link to being a victim in horror movies. It doesn't change the discourse or have anything new to say on the topic but those elements feel like an homage rather than a retread. Those tropes have survived for a reason even if they are a little dated. The movie does provide some genuinely funny moments and anyone who is a fan of those classic horror franchises will walk away from this one quite pleased.

The Final Girls celebrates all those iconic Scream Queens from horror days of yore. It raises a glass to what came before it and offers up an entertaining movie in its own right. If you like your horror on the lighter side I highly recommend this one. I'll wrap this up by answering the scary or not question by simply saying that the movie focuses on other things, but there are some effective jump scares and tense moments. It's just not the focus here and I appreciated those other elements more. 

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