The Final Girls (2015) - How does a really well made film like this make such a little splash? A PG-13 horror comedy with heart this film does a great job at not only giving us a comedy slasher but also having a really well rounded personal story for the lead character. Now I normally avoid the dreaded PG-13 but I had heard many good things about this movie so made the effort to get it. The story is unique and the jokes funny all the while giving us good characters to care about.
The story is started by establishing the lead character Max (Taissa Farmiga) and her mother Amanda Cartwright. Amanda (Malin Akerman) is a struggling actress we are introduced to as she feels to get a part at an audition. We get just enough to learn she was a star in an eighties slasher film Camp Bloodbath an obvious nod to Friday the 13th especially with the "Ch, Ch, Ch, Ha, Ha, Ha" sound that queued the killer was near. That movie was the highlight of a long but not particularly successful career for Amanda. She is having money troubles and really but is still grateful for the relationship with Max. We get just enough from these two to understand that they have a tough life but are in it together. The scene ends with the setup for the start of the adventure three years later.
When we join the story three years later Max is still struggling with the loss of Amanda. We meet her friends and Vicki (Nina Dobrev), Gertie (Alia Skawkat), Duncan (Thomas Middleditch) and Chris (Alexander Ludwig) and the story is set up. There is a double feature of Camp Bloodbath, and Camp Bloodbath two. Duncan a huge fan of the movie has set this up and asks Max to come as a guest, the daughter of a movie's star. She reluctantly agrees to go it being the anniversary of her Mother's death. This is the setup so we get some good character introductions, from Duncan's fandom to Chris's crush on Max and so the group is in the theater and the movie begins. There is this rather Final destination cutting to show how suddenly the theater catches on fire while the movie is playing. The group of friends can't get to the emergency exits so instead make there way to the screen. As the slasher in the film slashes downward so does Max cutting the screen. As the group pushes through the screen the magic of the film takes place. The group wakes to find them selves out in a wooded area. It is the magic you have to accept to get through the rest of the movie. Not long after the group reforms they realize that they are inside the Camp Bloodbath movie.
The great thing about this film is it subverts expectations in all kind of unexpected way. It is not enough that our group of outsiders somehow get pulled into the film, but they also stay stuck in the same scene until they get to the location of the next. This pushes them along through the story. Then there is the ability to alter the film by interacting with the characters in it. Max can have some heartfelt moments talking to the character that her Mother plays Nancy while the group thinks they just have to wait things out. Then there is the knowledge that the characters who have sex in the film will be killed off by Billy Murphy the killer who looks an awful lot like Jason of Friday the 13th fame. So here is an opportunity to change the script? Can that be done? We don't have to wait long for the answer to that as our group hides out watching the first movie murder scene play out. Again we the audience get to see the rules of the film come to life when not only is interaction with the characters possible but the killer can harm our group members. It is a really no punches pulled scene that gets its rules exposition in while still having some consequence.
Resigned to the fact that they have to survive this film they play along and join the plot waiting for final girl Paula (Chloe Bridges) to arrive. The idea that they can stick with her and survive is also subverted right away too. Even as they work on the different characters to get ready for the slasher film, mainly by trying to keep the characters from thinking about sex and by trying to figure out where some weapons are. Mixed in are short bits of the Max and Nancy connecting as we see the Max character built up, a character we can connect with and pull for. A well done building piece that sets us up for the next more important change to what the group think are the rules of this world. Played for comedy it should not be spoiled here. We have seen though that Max stops Nancy from having sex and getting killed so now the predictability of the script is out the window. Thinking that the reason things change is because Max intervened in Nancy scene makes this film more interesting. It was possible that they could have made it through the film if she had not but now the cat is out of the bag.
So with the film completely fucked from the inside and the rules as they thought pulled from underneath them they try again trying to define them. Now that Max one of two virgins in the film and Nancy the other but because of the script not written well enough to take the role, we have a way forward. So now it is time to get proactive and do a bit more of the really well space relational scenes. Moving half way through the second act we are priming for the third act where all the great fun will happen.
Loved this though.
Max and Nancy are talking about going into the real world together and we get to a quick exchange about what they can do there like go to college and drive a convertible, Nancy says "And go shopping at the Mall.
"People don't shop at malls anymore they shop online." replies Max
" Nothing I made it up." says Max making me the viewer giggle. There is this thing happening where Max wants her Mother back so bad and is willing to take this character she played instead and at the same time recognizes that the character will never really do. She is limited by the writing in Camp Bloodbath and can never know all she needs to fill max's void. Really well done. as well done as some of the other characters in the Bloodbath film, particularly Kurt (Adam Devine) and Tina (Angela Trimbur) both have some funny bit and its a shame to see them die but hey this is a slasher film. Not to mention the black guy in the film Blake (Tony N. Thompson) who gets short shifted in the film just like it is the 1980's.
Since all of you should see this film nothing more can be said here. The third act is fun and action filled and we get all the expected and some unexpected turns that make for a lot of fun. When all is said and done we have a very satisfying with all the excitement you would expect in a horror film. Filled with horror tropes and some really great writing where the double meaning of Max's dialog takes her character through the journey she inevitably has to travel is just marvelous. Letting go of Nancy and at the same time letting go of her Mother. When max is finally the final girl we get the final battle and the end credits where the film comes back out of the seriousness to have a bit more fun. The last twist at the end is also a good fit. In watching the extras on the Blu-ray the director talks about how the ending was changed a couple times after test audiences did not connect with what they had originally had. Overall this film was really enjoyable from the music to the fake 80's horror vibe to the comedy and the action. all the pieces come together to make a very enjoyable horror comedy. It's is also a well defined character plotting is heartfelt. so this film is definitely recommended.
As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter
is dedicated to following and being followed by
people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them
follow me back. This week actress Kate Braithwaite (Twitter link) followed back after the review I did on Little Deaths, Thanks Kate! This film being current and with what I would call some rather popular actors I don't hold much hope for anyof them to even notice this review let alone follow back. I do fear that Twitter has become too much of a
promotional tool for people in film to actually get those follow backs
but hey its an experiment. I am now following over 120 people while the
followers is only 16 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow
just anyone back. :)