Saturday, October 1, 2016

Seventh Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #1: The Final Girls

Seven years I've been doing this October scary movie series?  It's a good thing too, because if I didn't, the number of annual posts here at Friend Mouse Speaks would drop off even further: in 2008, I posted 217 times; last year, I only put up 61 - and twelve of them were in October.  Wow.  So here we go, limping along with 2015's The Final Girls.

Max Cartwright (Taissa Farmiga) is a sad girl, having lost her beloved mom (Malin Akerman) in a car crash three years ago.  Her mom, Amanda, wasn't the most successful person - her one claim to fame was starring in the in-universe sleepaway camp cult slasher, Camp Bloodbath, in the 1980s - but Max misses her.  When Max and some of her friends attend a local art house showing of Camp Bloodbath, they are mysteriously drawn into the movie and Max finds herself face-to-face with her mom, except that she's "Nancy," the character in the slasher film.  All the CB characters are only aware of themselves as the characters and it soon becomes clear to the modern teenage interlopers that they will only get out of the slasher flick alive if they make it to the end credits.  When the slasher flick starts to deviate from the script and the designated Final Girl meets an untimely end, Nancy and Max's bond becomes strong as they step up to fight against CB's masked and machete-ed villain.

Positive notes:  this horror/comedy mess has a strong cast, with the aforementioned Farmiga and Akerman, plus Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) and Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries) among others.  The scenes between Max and Nancy/Amanda are really strong.  And it's fun to see the teenagers navigate a universe they know so well due to repeated viewings of Camp Bloodbath and general knowledge of slasher film tropes.

On the minus side:  The Final Girls is incredibly uneven in tone.  The rules of the universe are changeable so it's difficult for the audience to get a grip.  Rated PG-13, it's practically bloodless and pretty much tension-free so as to scarcely qualify as horror, and while parts are funny, it's certainly not funny enough to be a comedy.  It isn't a full-on spoof nor is it much of an homage, as the camera work is not very classic slasher-like.  Scream, now a classic in its own right, did a much better job of acknowledging, pointing fun at and ultimately abiding by the rules of horror films.  The Final Girls is entertaining but would have been stronger with some actual scary moments to balance out the humor and the move-within-the-movie self-awareness.

Image result for the final girls image

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