One from the to watch pile…
The Final Girls (2015)
Film: For me, horror and comedy rarely mix well. Reanimator is an exception, Return of the Living Dead is another that works; generally though, the ‘horror comedy’ is actually a comedy movie with gore elements.
This film, The Final Girls, falls into the latter: it’s little more than a comedy film with slasher film aspirations in it, as one can tell by the cast inclusion of people like Thomas Middleditch from Silicon Valley and Adam DeVine from Workaholics, but for fans of 80s horror films, there is a lot here to like as it is a combination of the Friday the 13th series and Pleasantville.
Yeah. You read that right.
The Final Girls tells of Maxine Cartwright (Taissa Farmiga) a college student whose mother, an 80s horror movie star, Amanda (Malin Ackerman) died tragically three years ago. Today though, Max has been asked to represent her mother at a film festival where the slasher film her mother was in, Camp Bloodbath and its sequel, Camp Bloodbath II: Cruel Summer are being shown back to back.
Max is joined by her best friend, Gertie (Alia Shawkat), Gertie’s step-brother (who also organised the film festival) Duncan (Middleditch), her potential love-interest Chris (Alexander Ludwig) and Chris ex (and Max’s ex-best friend), Vicki (Nina Dobrev) to see the film, but the cinema is accidentally set alight, and to escape, the group have to cut their way through the actual movie screen to escape…
…which transports them INTO the movie, and finds Max reunited with her mother, but it’s not her mother, it’s the character she played in the film, Nancy.
The group realise that they are trapped not just with the badly written characters (played by Adam DeVine, Angela Trimbur, Chloe Bridges, Lauren Gros and Tory N. Thompson) but that the killer, Billy (Dan B. Norris) is well aware that he has more victims than usual… But how will they escape?
CAN they escape?!?
The tropes of horror films are treated with great humour in this film, and aren’t disrespected. There is some great physical comedy as well, and any scene with Middleditch or DeVine are lots of fun. The ‘real’ characters stand out brilliantly in the world of the 80s horror movie fantastically as the ‘bad actors’ as ‘real’ people still act like they do in the film.
That’s not to say the film is perfect though; there are a few cases of CGI that doesn’t quite work (although there is one CGI piece that is amazing!) and it does something that I detest in modern horror movies: it adds popular pop songs for familiarity to make the film easier to acclimatise to… Guardians of the Galaxy did it to sell itself and did a great job of it, but I don’t like that kind of psychological manipulation. I do admit to understanding both films had a grounding in the 80s so it’s not completely left-of-field, but I still find it manipulative.
The story of this film is heaps of fun for those who grew up with 80s slasher pics, or are fans of that genre. The director clearly loves this period of films, and, along with his cinematographer has created a film that is a joy to look at. The colours are vibrant and engaging, and if you watch… REALLY watch the film, you see heaps of great little clues and movie language that tells a far more clever story that a casual view might suggest.
Don’t be surprised though, this is 100% a comedy with a polite nod to horror films of the 80s. If you want a horror film, this ain’t it, but if you want to be entertained for a bit, this isn’t a bad way to do it.
Format: This Australian release, multi-region bluray of The Final Girls runs for 91 minutes and is presented in a pristine 2.40:1 widescreen presentation with a matching DTS HD 5.1 audio track.
Extras: Nice bunch of extras on this disc including a cast and crew commentary performed by Strauss-Schulson, actors Middleditch, Farmiga and Trimbur, Production designer Katie Byron and Dirctor of Photography Elie Smilkin, a bunch of deleted, alternate and extended scenes with or without the director’s commentary (they are better with the commentary and have some unfinished special effects), Pre-Vis Animation (storyboards done with rough computer models), visual effects progression reel (shows layered footage of the special effects from the earliest pass to the final one) and a downloadable PDF of the Director’s shooting notes (unreviewed).
It’s a great and informative bunch of extras, though the commentary is a bit crowded with so many people involved… It is pretty funny though.
WISIA: It’s an easy to watch ‘comfort’ film that requires very little from the viewer to enjoy. I can see myself watching it again, but on a low priority rotation.