Tuesday, March 29, 2016

1PanelReview The Final Girls

A love letter to 80s slasher flicks!

Friday the 13th series - Friday the 13th (2009)
Book One (Wildstorm) - Book TwoFriday the 13th (Avatar Press)
Jason vs Leatherface / Freddy vs Jason
Elm Street series - A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (WildStorm)A Nightmare on Elm Street (Avatar Press)
Halloween series - Halloween (2007) - HII (2009)
Halloween (Chaos! Comics)
One Good Scare - NightDance - 30 Years of TerrorThe First Death of Laurie Strode
Hellraiser 1
Final Exam
Black Christmas / Christmas Evil
Silent Night, Deadly Night series - Part 1 &2 - Silent Night (2012)
Santa's Slay
Jack Frost (1997)/Jack Frost (1998)
Pumpkinhead 1
Chucky series - Curse of Chucky / Chucky (Devil's Due Publishing)
Leprechaun series / Candyman series
 Re-Animator series
Hatchet 1Hatchet 2Hatchet 3
Hack/Slash: My First Maniac - Me Without You - Omnibus Vol. 1 - Friday the 31st
Series 1 (DDP)Hack/Slash Meets Zombies Vs CheerleadersHack/Slash/Nailbiter
Series 2 (Image)Son Of Samhain
Transylvania 6-5000/Transylvania Twist
Tucker & Dale / Cabin in the Woods
Darkman seriesDarkman (NES)

What it is: The Final Girls

Which is: An horror comedy/slasher/parody film
Directed by: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Year: 2015

The Final Girls is an horror comedy spoof on the slasher genre directed Todd Strauss-Schulson, best known for directing the 2011 comedy film A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, made through small indie company Vertical Entertainment and distributed by Sony's small film distributor Stage 6 Films. The film stars a really fun crew of young talented actors: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Åkerman, Adam DeVine, Thomas Middleditch (yes, that awkward guy from Silicon Valley!), the lovely Alia Shawkat, Alexander Ludwig, Nina Dobrev, Chloe Bridges, and Angela Trimbur. The film originally first premiered at South by Southwest back in March 2015 before being screened in a couple of other film festivals, then being properly distributed in a limited release on October 2015.

The Final Girls is about this girl, Max, who lost her mother in a car accident a few years before. Her mom was an actresses best remembered for her role as a scream queen in some old 1986 slasher film Camp Bloodbath, which is now still remember as a cult classic 20 years later. On the anniversary of her death, Max reluctantly accepts to come as a special guest to this double-feature showing of both Camp Bloodbath and its sequel Camp Bloodbath 2: Cruel Summer. Long story short, she and her friends end up trapped inside the film - that's right, "inside" the film. At first they seem stuck on an endless loop but they soon find out they must play out through the entire film to get out of the motion picture. They try to survive the awfully cheesy B-movie story but they find out they can apparently actually be killed in the fictional world! They stuck with the film's final girl, but when she's also killed by accident they have to take the plot of the film into their own hands to survive the slasher, this kid "Billy" that grew up to be this slasher "Hatchet Face", a Jason Voorhees analog right down to his look and origin story.
What's Good about it: The Final Girls is a very funny loving tribute to the slasher genre. It's a film that knows the rules of the genre and simply has a lot of fun with it.
The film is not without some great twists and turns. Particularly regarding your typical slasher plot, to defeat the slasher there must only remain one "final girl"...
Director Todd Strauss-Schulson paid a lot of attention to colors, editing and even camera movement to make the cheesy world of Camp Bloodbath come to life. These scenes simply sort of feel kind of nostalgic and true to classics.
The story of the film has a little Last Action Hero and even some Back to the Future thrown into it to some extend.
It's an affectionate tribute to slasher tropes and the genre, it even has some fun meta commentary regarding the clichés of that time. It's kind of self-referential in the same tone as Cabin in the Woods, Tucker & Dale or the first two Scream films.
It's a fun tribute to cheesy B-movies, from a modern perspective.
Although it's never quite explained how they got stuck inside the film,the film does allude to some possible hints to explain why it all happened (a "magically perfect timing" of sort). After that the characters try to find a way to survive trapped inside this 80s slasher film. Is it that difficult to spoof the genre? I mean some later sequels of long-running firanchises like Friday the 13th were kind of spoofing themselves by that time.
It's a funny, smart and creative film. I like how they tried using flashbacks to escape the slasher. It adds a fun meta angle, but unlike a lot of modern meta products it wasn't as cynical. It's a film that actually seems to love the genre, a charming parody.
Despite troublesome behind the scenes, the film works great. They made some last minute changes to the film, such as putting the Camp Bloodbath trailer at the beginning of the film instead of waiting longer for it to get the audience in the film faster. And they also got rid of the original bleaker ending where only two characters survived, which was too much of a downer, to bring the whole cast of friends back. What the film uses is actually a mashup of two different versions of the ending. It even works better to get us one final stinger like in classic slasher films.
That finale is fantastic and turns the film from good to great, I always loved these twist endings at the end of slasher films. Now I really want a sequel!!
Finally the music composed by Gregory James Jenkins is really great! The soundtrack's firmly rooted in 1980s films, they even use a couple of fun vintage songs! It uses some typical electronic sounds and synths, right down to the "TCh TCh ka ka" sounds from Jason Voorhees!

What's Bad about it: I don't honestly what to say here, I would have loved to see the film go longer or have more characters, just to get more kills out of it!
As hilarious as it was, Thomas Middleditch died way too soon! I expected to see him come back a few more times only to die again and again.
Something I honestly really didn't notice while watching it, the film was actually not R-Rated! And I know that's a big "no no" for some purists (even though this is clearly a horror comedy film..?). That means the film can't be as graphic or show some gore and nudity as actual 1980s slashers. The director didn't like it at first, writing the film as an R-Rated 80s horror film originally. But this really didn't detract much from film since it was so much fun and had this great light horror comedy tone pretty well. Since then the director said he was really satisfied with how the final product turned out.

Overall: While modern "serious" slashers never really grab me much anymore, I found The Final Girls to be a really fun and honest take on the genre. It's clearly loves the genre and it's a great self-referential and hilarious film!

It just works really well! The film has some great beautiful pictures, great camera work and a perfect upbeat humor, playing off 80s stereotypes pretty well!

If you're a fan of genre smart well-made genre-spoof like Tucker and Dale or even modern takes like Hatchet, you will probably love Final Girls as well! It's one of the best, and it comes Highly Recommended!

I know I would love this film to get at least one sequel, come on Vertical Entertainment! 

Todd Strauss-Schulson has been talking about having some ideas for a potential sequel. I'm not sure the film will actually ever get a follow-up so in the meantime all fans can do is spread the word to convince the studio to fund a sequel.
I give it: 2.5 / 3!

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