Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!
Once upon a time a Linguistics Ph.D. named Carol Clover wrote a book about women in horror movies after doing research at the local VHS rental store, asking the pimply faced clerk who rented more horror movies, men or women, then having her friends over to watch six films that no one else has ever watched. The result was Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Movie. You might think I wasn’t much impressed with her research (and you’d be right, and I told her so once), but she did coin a term that has become firmly embedded in the horror culture. [Note: See book link under LINKS below. – CFR]
The Final Girl is that one person who always managed to survive the terror and carnage. Think screaming young woman in the back of a pickup truck speeding away from a masked chainsaw dancer. She’s the clueless, powerless, probably innocent girl who often comes back in the sequel and is replaced by a younger version. Final Girl, not Final Mature Female.
Final Girl gets right to the setting of one of the most famous Final Girl settings, in all its yellowed and scratched glory, with an almost leering, baritone trailer voice announcing, “Welcome to Camp Blue Finch, where romance in the sun can turn deadly.” The ubiquitous VW bus arrives, spilling out its load of nearly naked beautiful teens randy to do all the things guaranteed to make a sociopath wild. “Pack your bags for camp blood bath.”
One of the Camp Bloodbath actresses becomes a scream queen favorite, ruining her career but not her attitude. She and her daughter are BFFs until a tragic car accident. Bereft, the daughter goes on, grieving but living her life until she is persuaded by her dork friends to attend a fan-filled Camp Bloodbath double feature. Spilled booze and illicit theatre smoking cause a sudden huge fire and daughter Max cuts a hole in the screen and jumps through with her friends. Moments later a VW bus full of nubile 70s teens appear on their way to Camp Blue Finch. Ninety two minutes later it appear again, on its way to Camp Blue Finch.
At this point in the film Final Girl leaves understandable time and space behind like Groundhog Day meets El Topo. Unlike the latter, this film entertains with modern kids versus masked 70s killer with the confused help of teen film caricatures.
Final Girl is not a belly laugh film though it’s funny. The pacing is a little uneven and there is a little too much kid gloves with the death, mayhem and tension building. There’s not enough time with Max and her teenage mom, only touching on this pathos loaded relationship. Still, the makers have an obvious love for that peculiar time in horror films, with every trope lovingly rendered. The actors are all perfectly cast and turn in strong performances. Color and music subtly guide us through time moving forward and backward and at one point sideways. They let us get to know all the characters really well, even slutty girl and slutty boy, making their impending deaths hard to take because you like them so much.
I had no idea how the film would end, which I appreciated. Final Girl is a fun film that I recommend as a goofy paean to a goofy movie institution.
- The Final Girls – IMDB
- The Final Girls – Wikipedia
- Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film By Carol J. Clover
The Final Girls – Official Trailer (2015) Nina Dobrev, Taissa Farmiga [HD]
CFR: In Addition: Margaret utterly LOATHES slasher movies of any kind so will probably never see this movie. She isn’t sad about that either. However, yes, Camp Bloodbath is funny.