Bradley Burgess | Rawr
Horror is probably the most polarizing genre in the history of cinema. There are plenty of great horror movies, but for every “Friday the 13th,” there’s a “Jason X.” Many films have tried to lampoon and put a new spin on the cliches of these films. Sometimes, that works, sometimes that doesn’t. Thankfully, “The Final Girls” falls into the former category.
Max (Taissa Farmiga) is grieving the loss of her mother (Malin Akerman), an actress from the cult slasher film, “Camp Bloodbath.” Reluctantly dragged along to a screening of said film by her horror-loving friend, Duncan (Thomas Middleditch), Max and her friends end up sucked into the world of the film, where Max is reunited with her mother. But there’s still a killer on the loose, which means Max and company must defy expectations and avoid clichés to literally make it to the end credits.
“The Final Girls” plays right into the wheelhouse of fans of cheesy ’80s slasher films. Every cliche is here — from the creepy music that marks the killer’s arrival, to the rule that “everyone who has sex in this movie dies” — and all of these tropes are made fresh with clever twists that will have viewers laughing out loud. Even with a limiting PG-13 rating — sorry folks, no blood — the film understands the genre while also doing its own thing.
The acting is fantastic across the board — a rare honor in a horror movie. Usually, there’s at least one character you want to see die, but here, everyone is likable, so that when they do bite the dust, the viewer cares. Farmiga is the star here, and she earns our sympathy, playing emotional scenes with her mother really well. Akerman makes for a likable mother-type and the bond between her and Farmiga is palpable. Alexander Ludwig makes a good leading man, Nina Dobrev elevates her typical mean girl, and then there’s Angela Trimbur as a hyperactive camp counselor who steals the show.
“The Final Girls” is a hilarious lampoon, yet still works as a stand-alone film. The characters are rich, the jokes are funny and the writing is creative and clever. It’s a fun movie to watch and it should be mandatory viewing for any horror buff.