I’ve always enjoyed films that are self aware – when the fourth wall is broken down and the characters address the audience. My favourite film to do such a thing is Annie Hall – expecially Alvy Singer’s tet-a-tet with a Marshall McLuhan spouting cinema goer. So brilliant.
While The Final Girls isn’t anywhere on the level of Annie Hall (really, they’re not even in the same stratosphere), I couldn’t help but think of Woody Allen’s classic when watching this humourous horror film.
Directed by Todd Strauss Schulson from a script by M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller, The Final Girls is the story of Max (Taissa Farmiga from American Horror Story), whose mother (Malin Akerman) is the star of ’80s horror film, Camp Bloodbath, essentially a take on Friday The 13th and Crystal Lake. Some time after her mother’s death in a car accident, Max attends a screening of the film where, for reasons unknown, her and her friends are sucked into the film itself, where they’re forced to live out scene after scene, including all the gruesome deaths, until only one final girl is left.
The Final Girls is at times a funny throwback to ’80s slasher films – it knows what it is and what the audience expects, and is blatantly self aware. You have the virgin, the badass, the two young loves who you wonder “will they or won’t they”, and the horndog. There’s the nerd who knows it all and the mindless murderer. Though the characters never break the fourth wall to speak to the audience like Annie Hall, like the proganists in Scream, its closest cousin, everyone is smart enough and movie savvy enough to figure out how horror tropes work. Which winds up making the character deaths that occur more than a little amusing.
The film really belongs to Farmiga and Akerman, who manage to find real heart in their characters, especially as we watch Max struggle to interact with her mother in a horror film where her ending is never really in doubt.
Ultimately, while it’s no Annie Hall (or even Annie), I enjoyed the fact that the characters in The Final Girls weren’t simply victims. They accept the craziness of their situation, being trapped in a film, and act accordingly, as they try to make it until the final reel. Who makes it?
You can probably figure it out.