So I knew The Final Girls was a horror comedy movie, and honestly, I had wanted to see it when I heard about it during production. But like so many movies it just kept getting pushed back on my “to watch list”. Finally, I took the time to watch it and honestly it was a lot different than I expected but still excellent.
Warning NOT a spoiler free Impressions
The Final Girls is mainly about Max whos mother was in an 80s slasher trash movie, Camp Bloodbath. They are very close while Max’s mom (Amanda) struggles to keep breaking into the acting world. Amanda and Max are in a car wreck which kills Amanda and understandably shakes Max.
Three years later Max is convinced to attend a screening of her mother’s slasher flick with her friends and mean girl Vicki, a fire breaks out in the theater and while escaping the group are transported into the movie. They decide that if they survive the movie they should logically get transported back to the real world. Max, on her own, also concludes that if her mother’s character survives the movie she too will get to leave with them.
What really got me about this movie is the incredible blend of comedy and absolutely heart-wrenching moments. Seeing Max confronted by what is basically her mother and dealing with all the emotions that brings had a major impact. I’ve talked before about Train to Busan being the horror movie that made me cry the most, The Final Girls easily made its way into a very close second.
But it’s not all the emotional story of Max being confronted with her late mother and trying so hard to do the impossible. It’s also a hilarious ride that so perfectly makes fun of the genre while still maintaining love for it.
Each of the characters from Camp Bloodbath (aside from Max’s mom) are the perfect over the top representation of the tropes we’ve come to know. It makes for hilarious moments and a fantastic look at what makes so many slasher trash movies well loved. They fall so deeply in line with their tropes that almost every scene featuring the movie characters is guaranteed to make you laugh. This goes double for Tina who is the “slutty” girl who just… she is comedy gold.
There is also the fact that the “real world” characters are impacted by the movie world. If they try to move too far off script, they are forced into repeating it. They can sense non-diegetic music which is funny and helps them to work in the world. There are many ways that movie intelligently uses the interplay of them being in the movie but not actually being part of it. This movie doesn’t just rely on laughing at what can make horror movies so goofy it uses different types of comedy including leaning into the fact that it’s breaking the 4th wall.
The “real world” characters also help to shape the movie from just being another slasher flick. They are an interesting counterbalance to the hapless Camp Bloodbath characters and help to keep the plot from being too stale. Once they realize they can’t just “watch” the movie from the sidelines but have to be active participants that fight for their survival, they dive in and change things for the better. They know the rules, they are better equipped to handle things, and they know how the movie plays out. It keeps things interesting instead of just “we’re along for the ride and here’s some comedy”.
My one issue with the movie would probably be the pacing. The bulk of the “horror” part is sandwiched by two larger sections. Section one is the build-up to them realizing that they have to take a more active role in the “movie”. Section two is the climax and Max becoming focused not on surviving but saving her “mom” and the reality that she is not going to be able to succeed. This means that in the middle when we have them actually confronting the killer and things going haywire (as they do in horror movies) things move quickly, and it’s slightly disappointing.
This is not a major gripe because overall the movie is fantastic, and the setup and climax are both solid. It does, however, mean the bulk of where the “horror” in horror-comedy could have come from is missing. It’s far from a deal breaker, but I think the movie could have been well served to stretch that part out a bit and give us a little more slasher horror as a balance with the comedy.
In the end, though the movie is well acted, it is downright hilarious, and it does a good job poking fun at horror, and it’s fans while still being enjoyable for us. If you are a genre fan, I would highly recommend this one. It is an extremely fun movie, even with several gut punches emotionally. It is witty and unique, and honestly, I can’t wait to watch it again.