Today we enjoy this hilarious mockery of the horror genre, The Final Girls, a 2015 movie that offers more than might seem at first glance.
In a moving tribute to her late mother, Amanda, the young Max accepts an invitation to a special screening of an old slasher film called Camp Bloodbath, where Amanda was the lead actress.
The evening takes an unexpected turn when, due to a fire in the theater, they all get sucked into this 1980s horror movie straight into the youth camp where the massacre was set.
In that strange place filled with dumb, sex-obsessed teenagers, they get to know up close the various characters in the film, among whom is Nancy, the screen version of Max’s mother.
Besides her, unfortunately for all of them, there is also Billy Murphy, the psychopathic killer destined to slaughter all the main characters with a machete before the credits roll.
Initially, they believe these murders do not concern them, as they are not part of the cast. Still, they soon must change their minds when Billy starts killing everyone indiscriminately.
Trapped in a time loop and with the growing danger of the killer lurking around, the group tries to join forces to survive and find a way out.
The camping characters, stupid as the script dictates, don’t believe a word and foolishly continue to make the mistakes that trigger the killer’s wrath, such as having sex or swearing.
Despite his fear of death, Max tries to use the opportunity to spend time with Nancy, even though she is not really the woman who died so many years earlier.
However, she also knows the fate that awaits her mother, the latest victim of Billy’s murderous rampage, becoming the Final Girl on the cover that will make this movie famous.
Never forget the basic slasher rules
Todd Strauss-Schulson guides the lively group of friends toward a tragic fate with cunning and a touch of wholesome humor.
Leading these satirical homages to 1980s horror films, the director handles each scene with a playful attitude and presents us with what we deeply desire.
Fortin and Miller’s ingenious screenplay makes use of countless genre clichés, blending them with a mother/daughter narrative to provide that dash of humanity that makes everything sweeter and authentic.
Mixing melancholy with the quirky, dumb, partying camp characters, the play successfully balances humor without weighing down the narrative with too many dramatic overtones.
However, it is essential for us, as the audience, to accept the general lunacy without pretending realism and soak in the enthusiasm delivered by the adventure.
Just as we watch the movie in the theater or comfortably at home, the protagonists know the basic horror rules. Thus, interacting with this fantastic world and its bizarre inhabitants is the most fascinating aspect.
Indeed they are well aware of what triggers Billy’s fury, for example, when one of the protagonists dances seductively, followed by an escape in typical Scream Queen style.
Better yet, we all expect the classic, revealing flashback to the monster’s origins, as the characters even get there by altering the captions on the screen.
However, the time constraint of the setting must be remembered: every 92 minutes, everything goes back to its beginning, that is, in the standard length of any horror slasher.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, it’s up to you), The Final Girls is a 2015 movie with a PG-13 rating, which means there is no excessive violence or nudity.
But at least we’re comforted by the catchy soundtrack, with the climax represented by Kim Carnes‘ “Bette Davis Eyes“, which plays in the background of Malin Åkerman‘s sad/happy striptease.
Young actors and lots of fun
From the very beginning, even the “real world” protagonists seem like a group destined to be targets in a slasher, even before they actually enter the film.
Alexander Ludwig, embodying Chris, brings to the screen the charm of the classic handsome guy with the seductive look we all expect to become the hero du jour.
In contrast, Duncan, played by Thomas Middleditch, is the classic horror-loving nerd here to explain what’s going on.
Alia Shawkat, as Gertie, stands out as Duncan’s bold half-sister, but she will be the first to perceive the danger posed (even to them) by killer Billy.
Much more mindless is Vicki Summers, played by Nina Dobrev, a more self-centered figure obsessed with jealousies and doubts about the other girls’ purity.
In the colorful pretend world of the slasher, I hated/loved Adam Devine as Kurt: a vulgar, sex-obsessed individual, though unfortunately for him, more in word than deed.
But despite all the other entertaining undercurrents, the emotional heart of the plot is the delicate dynamic between the beautiful and sweet Taissa Farmiga and Malin Åkerman.
Although one is more melancholy and the other more optimistic, their closeness grows inexorably within the deadly context of Camp Bloodbath, rediscovering a mother-daughter relationship they could not hope for.
As hapless Cartwright family revivers, we witness their drama from the outset, with a fate from the car accident that seems destined to repeat itself toward the film’s climax.
However, in that magical universe represented by the cinematic film, they, too, are faced with a new opportunity.