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Monday, 25 January 2016

DVD Of The Week: The Final Girls (2015)


Since the Scream franchise, the post-modern slasher flick where the potential victims of the unstoppable killer are aware of the 'rules' of horror films has become de rigeur.

However, while those movies tend to be grounded in the real world, The Final Girls takes a more 'magical' approach by transporting a gang of cine-literate 21st Century teens into a 1980s Friday The 13th-style slasher movie.

American Horror Story's Taissa Farmiga is Max, the daughter of deceased actress Amanda Cartwright (Watchmen's Malin Akerman), strong-armed into attending a screening of Camp Bloodbath, her mum's "finest hour", on the anniversary of the car crash that claimed Amanda's life.

However, a fire breaks out in the theatre and while trying to escape, Max and her friends find themselves transported - somehow - into the movie!

They quickly realise that they are unable to leave the environs of the cinematic summer camp, and figure that their only escape is to survive to the end of the movie.

Things get complicated though when their presence leads to the death of the movie's nominated "final girl" - who is supposed to stop the machete-wielding killer, Billy (Dan B Norris) - and Max starts to believe that if she can save her mother's character, Nancy (who died in the original film), then perhaps her mother might survive with them.

As well as humour coming from the culture clash of '80s teen mores with those of today, there are some very clever ideas in The Final Girls, such as the modern-day teens being able to hear the film's non-diegetic sound (e.g. audio cues and voice-overs), see on-screen titles and credits, realise when the film goes into slow-motion etc

However, where the movie comes up short is its failure to fully commit to genre emulation. While it talks about the blood and boobs so prevalent in '80s slasher films, they are both conspicuous by their absence in The Final Girls.

Sure, there's violence, and some hard cussing towards the end, but ultimately The Final Girls plays like a pre-watershed, family-friendly, TV edit of a slasher film, which is kind of a shame, because if the Camp Bloodbath sequences had stayed true to their roots then this could have been a genuine classic.

As it is, the idea is better than the finished product simply because it is attempting to satirise and subvert something that doesn't exist in the world of this movie.

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