via Facebook/The Final Girls
I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like The Final Girls (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment). I mean, I figured it was going to be campy, and funny in parts, especially because I’m a Workaholics fan and the movie features cast member Adam Devine and past guest star Angela Trimbur. I did not expect to end up shedding quite a few tears–okay, I straight up cried–and laughing so hard. I also didn’t expect such splendid cinematography.
The Final Girls starts off on a bit of a melancholy note. I won’t spoil it for you and say why, but within the first five to 10 minutes you will be shocked and saddened. Max (Taissa Farmiga, American Horror Story) is experiencing the loss of a loved one, and she’s barely making it through in school. She’s numb to the fact that she may not graduate college, but even more numb to the fact that a very handsome classmate Chris (Alexander Ludwig, The Hunger Games) is quite taken with her. Max is invited to the double feature screening of “Camp Bloodbath”, the campy 80s movie that her mom Amanda (Malin Akerman, Childrens Hospital) starred in by Duncan, her best friend’s geeky older stepbrother (Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley) in exchange for him doing her homework. She’s joined by Chris who follows her like a puppy dog–it’s adorable–and her best friend Gertie (Alia Shawkat, Arrested Development). Her former best friend Vicki (Nina Dobrev, The Vampire Diaries) tags along to be messy (and stalk her ex Chris), and they all eventually settle in after shading each other to watch the film. Through a series of brilliantly rendered and shot scenes that mix CGI and live action, the entire theater goes up in flames, and this unlikely party of five ends up in the actual “Camp Bloodbath” movie.
via Facebook/The Final Girls
If you thought they could just sit it out and wait for the movie to end that and any other notions are dispelled with the first few minutes Max and company are in the film. They have no choice but to jump in with the camp counselors in the groovy little VW van on their way to camp to get prepped for the kids that never arrive. It’s at this point in the film that it’s clear that Farmiga will not stop until she hits you in all of your feels. Farmiga has a way of going full Puss in Boots from Shrek on us with those eyes of hers and her apparent gift for crying on demand. Max can’t just up and let her mother know anything about who she really is and the reality outside of the film, and this is mainly because the characters in the film just don’t know that they are in a movie. This is real life for them, and that means that the monster, the Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers-inspired machete-wielding killer Billy Murphy, is very real and very much able to kill anyone that gets in his way.
Director Todd Strauss-Schulson, whose most notable directing credit is 2011’s A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, has quite possibly made a fan of his directorial style out of me thanks to his brilliant work on The Final Girls. The film was a visual feast for the eyes, and I haven’t been this impressed with a movie in quite awhile. Strauss-Schulson didn’t rely on the usual darkness that we’re accustomed to in slasher and horror movies. Instead of relying on the aforementioned, there were bright pops of color giving certain scenes a nightmarish, ethereal quality. If Lisa Frank made your worst fears come true, they would probably look like several scenes in The Final Girls. Max, Gertie, Vicki, and the other female characters were all really strong-willed and determined, despite the circumstances, which I totally appreciated because I get tired of the same female character tropes. Max’s fight scene towards the end was magnificent so look out for that.
via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Most of all, much like Joss Whedon made evident in Cabin in the Woods, Strauss-Schulson’s appreciation for those cult horror movies from the past 30 years is evident, even when he pokes fun at the formulas within them that made those movies so beloved. Devine is the jock who thinks about sex all day and can’t keep it in his pants, and Trimbur is the vixen who flaunts her body and sexuality to the point that they use it to actually lure the Billy into the cabin. The minute anyone has sex or gets ready to have sex, Billy is summoned to finish them off.
The ending was expected, but the moment of truth in the last 10 to 15 minutes of the film was tear-jerking and quite emotional, which really brought home how complex and profound Strauss-Schulson’s direction was in this movie. I laughed, I was creeped out–never scared–and I cried, all while I was delighted by the acting and the visuals. So put on some tube socks, and find your best crop top–yes guys, you too–and kick it with The Final Girls. It’s totally radical!