The Final Girls

Rated: PG 13

        There’s something about the horror films that came out in the late 70s, early 80s that keeps us coming back to them over and over again, despite them being pretty terrible. Whether it’s the maniac moving ridiculously slow, and yet still being able to keep up to the people trying to escape; or the way the maniac seems  unkillable; or the cheesy characters themselves, there’s something wonderful in the awfulness that makes them worth watching again and again.
        So what if there was a film that combines everything that we love about those cheesey horror films, plus has an even more interesting plot and better writing and acting than all of them? I’m sure you’re probably thinking, “Yeah! That would be great, but no way could anyone pull it off!” Well, I’ve got news for you. Writers M. A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller, along with director Todd Strauss-Schulson have done just that with the film
The Final Girls.
The Final Girls is the story of Max, a young woman who is grieving over the death of her mother, who was an 80’s slasher film star. While attending an anniversary screening of her mother’s film, Max finds that her and her friends have been mysteriously pulled into the world of the film and must do all they can to survive.
        This is the type of film that, when I first found out about it, I decided that I wanted to see it, but I expected the worst. I expected it to be as terrible as the horror films it is based off of, or worse. Of the main cast of 12 characters, only three were recognizable to me beforehand, and although two of those three are rising stars, they’re not quite “A Listers” yet. The cast has between 10 and 88 acting credits to their names, with the average being 38. Depending on my first impression of a film, I certainly don’t mind seeing a movie that has actors I don’t know in it, but having a few better known actors in a film unquestionably helps my perceptions prior to seeing it.
        And then there’s the writers and director. Looking at director Todd Strauss-Schulson first, it would seem that there’s nothing to worry about if you take a peek at his IMDB page. He has 25 directing credits, including some episodes of the TV show
The Inbetweeners and the A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas film. Looks are deceiving in this case though. Of his 25 directing credits, going back to 1997, most of them are either TV shows that didn’t last long, or short films. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; I’m simply saying that he’s a little short in the directorial experience department.
        Which brings us to writers M. A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller. They have 3 and 4 writing credits, respectively. Three of their credits are things they’ve worked on together,
The Final Girls, Dawn (a short film) and a TV series called Queen of the South. Again, there’s nothing wrong with having a shorter resume, it just means that they’re both lacking significant screenwriting experience.
        Putting all of this together it’d be easy to pass this film by as garbage made by people with little to no experience in filmmaking. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s not to judge a film based on its cast and crew’s IMDB pages alone, and
The Final Girls is no exception.
        On its surface this film is nothing more than a comedic take on tired old horror clichés, and if that’s all there was to it, it would still be a delightful little film. But’s it’s the underlying message that really makes
The Final Girls something special. Writers Fortin and Miller artfully crafted a story about grief and moving on after the death of a loved one, but carefully wrapped it in traditional spoof packaging, so as not to bring people down too much, and to make it more appealing to a wider audience. It may seem oxymoron-ish to have such deep and serious subject matter presented in such a comedic way, but that is where the real magic of this film lies.
The Final Girls is one of those enchantingly marvelous films that came together with sheer excellence. If the cast had been better known or more famous, if the crew had had more experience under their belts, if the writers had worked on dozens of other screenplays in the past, it wouldn’t have worked. Every once in a while there are films that, despite the odds being stacked against them, are such perfection that they wouldn’t have worked any other way. The Final Girls is just such a film.

The Final Girls is rated PG-13, was directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, was written by M. A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller and stars Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Alexander Ludwig, Nina Dobrev, Alia Shawkat, Thomas Middleditch, Adam Devine, Angela Trimbur, Chloe Bridges, Tory N. Thompson, Lauren Gros, and Dan B. Norris. It is available now on DVD, Blu Ray and streaming.