The Final Girls, Stage 6 Films/Vertical Entertainment, 2015.
Disfigured mask-wearing killer bent on revenge? Check. Campy origin story? Check. Display of typical stereotypes? Check.
More comedy than horror, The Final Girls is part-tribute, part-spoof of it’s subject. I’ll give this one some credit because l’ve never seen a horror flick like it before. It’s very hip these days to do throwback to good old ’80s slasher-style horror, but this time we are presented with a twist rather than a formula. The audience is taken literally inside an ’80s slasher film along with our cast of loveable misfits and stereotypes as they try to survive. The movie is incredibly self-aware and pokes fun of itself at every opportunity. The Final Girls knows what it is and is not afraid to have fun with it.
The movie wears its influences, or should I say influence — Friday the 13th — on its sleeve. On occasion it even feels like a Friday sequel, albeit probably not one of the better sequels. It even rips-off the Friday theme, it clearly knows what it’s doing. The camp, the masked villain, the backstory, a child tormented by others for being different and the list goes on, it’s all here.
Characters over-act, under-act, but this is horror — it is expected, even encouraged in such homage work. It’s part of the territory. Taissa Farmiga (youngest sister of Bates Motel’s Vera Fermiga) may be the film’s lead actress, but Malin Akerman who steals the show, delivering what is a surprisingly convincing performance. The Final Girls doesn’t get everything right but the mother-daughter relation between the two actresses leads to some genuinely heartbreaking moments (the Bette Davis Eyes scene is at least). Adam Devine provides the comedic relief as Kurt, a stereotype so hellbent on being a stereotype it almost hurts.
The way the film is glued-up together and dances between comedy and horror doesn’t always work, but it puts a fresh spin on a classic genre. The Final Girls is nothing groundbreaking, rooted in nostalgia and hardly essential. Yet it’s an entertaining and creative piece of horror cinema. It’s funny minus the scary, lacks gore and threatening kills but for this type of project it makes perfect sense. There was also the previously mentioned surprising mother-daughter drama/relation that stirred up unexpected emotions, something a horror movie hasn’t been able to do to me in quite some time.
It’s a mindless horror-comedy with a heart that deserves but doesn’t necessarily require viewing. 3.5 stars.