Normally, I plan my Horror movie reviews, for October, well in advance of Halloween, but this one surprised me. I’d never heard of it until a few days ago. I originally confused this movie with another movie about serial killers, with the same title, called Final Girl, which was released the same year. Final Girl is also a comedy but the two movies are very different.
The Final Girls is a rather broad parody of serial killer movies from the eighties, with all their various tropes, specifically the Friday the 13th movies, and the movie Sleepaway Camp. There’s also some elements of the Scream movies. Some modern day teenagers get trapped in an eighties horror movie and have to try to survive to the end of it. To that end, they use their knowledge of horror movies, in general ,and the specific horror movie they’ve landed in, to try to navigate their way through the movie. Nothing goes as planned.
About 25 years ago, Max’s actress mother, Amanda, starred in a horror movie called Camp Bloodbath, and can’t seem to live it down, as she’s having difficulty finding other roles. After one such audition, Max and Amanda are involved in a car crash and Amanda’s mother dies. Three years later, Max is still grieving for her, but has some new friends, and a crush on a guy named Chris.
All of them get invited to a special screening of her mother’s old movie and its new sequel, Camp Bloodbath II. When the theater catches fire, Max, Chris, her best friend Gertie, a bitchy girl named Vicki, and Gertie’s stepbrother, Duncan, try to escape the fire by tearing their way through the movie screen, only to find themselves stuck in the movie. Duncan is an expert on serial killer movies and Camp Bloodbath specifically. One of the funniest moments is them sitting by the side of the road, trying to figure out where they are, and if they are indeed, in a movie.
In a moment of prime surreality, Max meets her actress mother, years before she became her Mom, as the nice girl stereotype named Nancy. Max spends the rest of the movie trying to save Amanda’s life, even though on some level she knows these aren’t real people. Its a bittersweet moment, as you can tell that seeing her mother alive and well again is having a real effect on Max. She tries to advise and guide her without telling her that she’s Amanda’s unborn daughter.
The Camp counselors consist of the usual throwaway characters including a randy horndog, named Kurt, who everyone thinks is disgusting, except for the girls in the Bloodbath movie. There’s Tina, the camp sexpot, and the actual Final Girl of Camp Bloodbath, Paula. The Black guy of course, is killed almost immediately. Since one of the rules of serial killer movies is that whoever has sex dies, the modern crew spend most of the movie trying to keep what characters they can from having sex. After Duncan gets killed, they learn that their own lives are fodder for the killer, named Billy.
Billy is played as a straight killer, in the mold of Jason rather than Freddie, with much the same backstory. We learn this when the modern day teens get caught in a flashback, within the movie, in the movie (and believe they’ve gone colorblind.) Billy doesn’t crack jokes, or cackle menacingly. He’s actually pretty terrifying, really, which just makes the movie funnier, as no one takes him as seriously as they should with Duncan deciding he wants a selfie with him.
One of the funniest moments, for me, is when they put Tina in restraints, kitchen mitts, and extra clothing to keep her from having sex or taking her clothes off. Tina, who is best classified as a very dim bulb, doesn’t understand any of it. Bless her heart! At one point, Vicki tries to explain that her cellphone is actually a phone, and Tina just laughs at her.
When Paula gets killed, they decide to take matters into their own hands. Without Paula to be the Final Girl, they elect Max as the only virgin. Her job is to kill Billy just like in the original film. Killing Billy is probably the only way they can escape the movie. So they lure Billy to the camp by using Tina as bait, by allowing her to take off her clothes, and booby trapping the entire house. During Billy’s siege of the camp, most of the other characters get killed. Only Chris, Nancy and Max escape, and Chris is wounded, when Billy kidnaps Nancy.
Max is desperate to save Nancy and goes after her . She manages to free Nancy but is wounded in the attempt. In order for there to be a Final Girl, one of the girls must die, though. Nancy sacrifices herself but not before Max confesses to her that she is the movie counterpart to her late mother. Now, as the Final Girl, Max has the superpowers to defeat Billy. After killing him with his own machete, she wakes up in the hospital to find all her friends are alive again, but unfortunately, they are all now stuck in the sequel.
I had a lot of fun watching this movie. I loved the dialogue, the sight gags, all of it. I especially liked the character’s relationships with each other. Normally these types of movies are full of people you are hoping will be killed, but with the exception of Kurt, who is kinda “rapey”, and thereby disgusting, most of them are sweet, but not too bright. Even the modern characters, while snarky, are not actually mean, and some of them even make fun of which stereotypes they are, with Vicki making cracks about being the “mean girl”. I laughed the hardest at some of the throwaway lines the modern teens lobbed at the movie teens, who were too dim to understand.
I especially liked Max’s relationship with Nancy. The two of them spend some amount of time bonding, and you can see all of Max’s grief and longing, when she talks to Nancy, while trying not to reveal who she is. Nancy asks her, a couple of times, why she cares about her so much, and Max stutters to come up with a reason for why she’s attached herself to this girl. I like that the women aren’t just sexy floor lamps. They affect the plot as much as they can, considering their circumstances, and manage to contribute a lot of one-liners to the discussion. The movie teens have no idea how funny they are. They play it completely straight, while the modern teens are deliberately snarky, because they can’t believe the situation they’re in.
There are several girls in the movie and they all talk to each other, support each other when they can, and are largely non-judgmental about one another. For example, no one considers Tina’s cat-in-heat behavior, to be at all remarkable. They just take it in stride that she’s gonna try to hump anything that moves, and/or take her clothes off. They try to stop that because it attracts Billy, not because they judge her as being bad.
The modern teens are surprisingly intelligent, and some of the funniest moments is watching them come up with a plans to defeat the movie they’re trapped in, but it doesn’t matter because, according to the laws of teen killer movies, there can be only one survivor, so everyone keeps having horrible accidents, as the movie attempts to correct itself.
This strongly reminded me of the movie Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, as it has much of the same kind of silly, slapstick humor. The kind of humor that’s not predicated on people being bitchy or unlikable. As an example, I give you Grizzly Park, which is a movie about a bear, hunting and killing teenagers, at a summer camp. The people in that movie, are quite possibly some of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever watched in a movie, and at some point, I wished all of them would hurry up and be mauled by the bear, so the movie could end. I watched that movie with my Mom, an old veteran of these kinds of movies, and even she cheered for the bear.
And it was very refreshing to watch a movie made in 2015, where you care about the people being killed. Ordinarily, the killer seems to be the focus of any movies made after Scream, and you root for him, or the people he’s killing are so annoying that you pray for their deaths. And its also quite a contrast to movies made in the 80’s, where the teens seemed to like each other. Teens were annoying in the movies back then, and the movies were deeply sexist, but the teens weren’t bad people, and I didn’t spend the movie wishing for them to die.
Since I saw this on a family oriented network, I can assume its mostly safe for teens, but not for little kids under a certain age maybe, as there is a certain amount of gore, language, and sexual situations.
This movie was a surprise like for me, as I wasn’t expecting it to be so good, and I’m adding it to my comedy/ horror list, along with Tucker and Dale, Shaun of the Dead , and The Addam’s Family.