Movie Review: The Final Girls (2015)
The Final Girls (2015)
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Adam Devine
Synopsis: A woman still mourning the death of her 1980s B-movie queen mother finds herself trapped into the world of her mum’s most famous movie.
Although The Final Girls, Todd Strauss-Schulon’s affectionate homage to slasher movies of the ‘70s and ‘80s, is entertaining enough, our enjoyment is tempered somewhat by the vague conviction that something about it just doesn’t work. It feels incomplete, as if the screenwriting team (M. A. Forbin and Joshua John Miller) were too impatient to commit to paper the ideas they already had when they should have conducted the additional two or three brainstorming sessions that the finished product suggests was required. Also, the decision to aim for a PG rating – prompted, presumably, by commercial considerations – is a damaging one that more or less ensures that The Final Girls is just a shadow of what it might have been in the hands of a team prepared to deliver the nudity and violence for which the movies it seeks to mock are notorious.
The story sees teenaged student Max (Taissa Farmiga – 6 Years) still suffering from the loss of her mother, former ‘80s scream queen Amanda (Malin Akerman), three years after she died in a car accident which Max survived. It’s therefore with reluctance that she accepts an invitation to a screening of Camp Bloodbath, the B-movie horror for which her mother is remembered. However, it unexpectedly offers her the opportunity to be reunited with Amanda – or, at least, the character she plays in Camp Bloodbath – when she and a few friends are somehow transported into the movie when a fire breaks out in the theatre.
Already puzzled by awakening in a forest when their last memory is of trying to escape the claustrophobic confines of the cinema, the friends’ are left speechless when a camper van carrying the main characters of Camp Bloodbath stops to ask them for directions. When they pass by again, 92 minutes later, Duncan (Thomas Middleditch – The Wolf of Wall Street), the geeky member of the group who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the movie, figures out what is going on, and the next time that the van passes their way the group accepts the proffered lift from its passengers (who have no recollection of their previous encounters) in the hope that from the summer camp they will be able to find their way back to the real world.
For the reasons already stated, The Final Girls is never really as much fun as it should be. It’s strongest when exploring the opportunities for self-awareness surrounding its concepts – slithering spears descending to indicate the beginning of a flashback, scrolling credits in the sky, and so forth – and weakest when trading on its ‘80s characters’ ignorance of such things as mobile phones and George Michael’s sexuality. While the dialogue might raise the occasional smile, there’s nothing laugh-out-loud funny about it and, as you’d expect from a PG-rated movie, the horror element is pretty tame. There are strong roles for women, as if to emphasise the shift towards gender parity (which even today remains a distant prospect, but is still a vast improvement over the ‘80s), but the scenes between mother Akerman and daughter Farmiga, while admittedly poignant, are at odds with the lighter tone of the rest of the movie.
(Reviewed 3rd December 2015)