Saturday, October 08, 2016

The Final Girls (2015)

This film was just the tonic, as I was in the mood for something lighthearted. The Final Girls nailed it in every sense.

So originally I had slated Final Girl to watch... That was, until a couple of people suggested I not bother, and instead swap it out for this movie. I love my friends! This film is a riot and a real treat for horror fans who fancy something fun and cheekily respectful to our favourite genre.

All hail knowingly cheesy DVD art!

This is a film that's so self-referential it's one step away from looking straight down the camera. And yet it's not at all annoying, and manages to play out as funny and fresh.

One of my favourite ways for a horror film to start is the sudden shock. Say a character is quickly established who seems like they are in it for the long haul, but then quickly dispatched (see: Scream) or a scene seems harmless enough and then something brutal happens (see: The Descent). Well... this one starts like that.

Main character Max is now an orphan, and a few years later she still hasn't fully processed the loss of her mum, a former 80s slasher actress. After a bizarre accident at a screening of her mum's most popular film, Max and a few of her friends find themselves trapped in that very same movie: "Camp Bloodbath"

They can't leave (scenes and dialogue skip and repeat until they stop attempting to escape, and routes away from the action just loop them right back to it) and thanks to one of them being a horror nerd, they know who dies, when, and why. Unfortunately they also learn that even though they are trespassers in this story, they aren't immune to being killed off by "Billy" the psycho, either.

Using their genre knowledge, such as: boobs summon the killer; the final girl has to be a virgin etc, and basically being a bit more streetwise than the camp counselor characters, the friends set traps and figure out how to kill Billy, end the film and hopefully get back home.

The emotional heart of the story lies with Max. I'm unfortunately now a sucker for stories of parental loss, so I connected to this sub-plot of grief, and wanting someone back so you can say everything you didn't before it was too late. It's a nice little bit of soul in the middle of a ridiculous film, but it works.

The modern day teens are established quickly, but well, so when their lives are on the line you actually care! FINALLY. Also I just plain love Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story) and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) so watching them act is a joy.

There are multiple clever uses of effects here, paying tribute to conventions in film while simultaneously ignoring the rules. Text at the bottom of a screen denoting a flashback causes the kids to trip over; a new scene literally "wipes" itself down the current one, engulfing them as it goes, and credits appear above the tree line in the sky, completely visible as they start their crawl.

The look, feel and even sound of those 80s slashers is perfectly captured, too. From the neon smoke and lightning to the Evil Dead-like twisty camerawork, it's all here and executed (pardon the pun) with such love.

The music I will let speak for itself...

A final girl word: Don't expect buckets of gore with this one. Ironically, given the title of the film-within-a-film, the kills are more comedic than creative. It's really about everything else that happens around them.

But let's just say I'm excited that Camp Bloodbath had a sequel!

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