Looking Back at 2010s Films: The Final Girls (2015)

15 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

Continuing my series of Looking Back at 2010s Films…I want a sequel to “The Final Girls!” Why is there still not a sequel to “The Final Girls”?? People will see it!…Or somebody will!…I will!

“The Final Girls” is a satirical horror film about a group of modern-day young adults who are magically teleported into a 1980s slasher film–think “Last Action Hero” meets “Scream.” And now, in order to see the end of the film and hopefully get back home, they have to help the ’80s protagonists fight off a mysterious masked killer. What complicates things is that one of the ’80s kids was played in reality by the deceased mother of one of the millennials, and she’s not ready to lose her again.

The film was co-written by Joshua John Miller (along with M.A. Fortin), whose father is Jason Miller, who was best-known for playing Father Karras in “The Exorcist.” I can’t help but feel like writing this screenplay was like a form of therapy for him. (And another fun fact: Joshua Miller was best-known for acting as the little punk from ’80s cult classics “River’s Edge” and “Near Dark”–I know he plays different characters, but c’mon, he’s still the same little jerk in each film.)

But even with its heart, it’s still a horror-comedy. Does the comedy work? Yes…for the most part. The deconstructing of the slasher-movie tropes is very well-done, including how even being genre-savvy doesn’t always save your life. The killer, named Billy, is obviously molded after Jason Voorhees and the “Black Christmas” killer (also named “Billy”). They try to work in as many types as possible for the disposable teens–the Stud, the Sexpot, the Virgin, the Final Girl, and more. And it’s also nice to see these millennial youths play parental roles to these ’80s stereotypes.

What I don’t like so much about the film is that the ’80s stereotypes don’t feel even like “’80s stereotypes.” They feel like millennials trying to play ’80s so they can have an excuse to be as impolitically correct as possible. Did they really expect me to buy Adam DeVine as a jock stud from the ’80s? Bullsh*t. I have the same problem with Angela Trimbur as the ’80s Sexpot–again, I’m not seeing as much of a type as much as someone trying to perform community theater. Even for an ’80s slasher film, you gotta try harder than this.

Though, I will say…they are more memorable than most disposable teens in real ’80s slasher films.

Speaking of which, the main characters themselves are likable enough for me to want to follow them. It’s not really an actor’s movie, but it is important to have appealing players in any film, no matter how satirical it may be. Taissa Farmiga is a fun protagonist, Alexander Ludwig is convincing as a sensitive jock, Nina Dobrev is funny as a conceited slutty type, Alia Shawkat is also funny at being Alia Shawkat, and Thomas Middleditch is irritating without being ear-numbingly so. Also, Malin Akerman as the ’80s Virgin who doesn’t know her character is played by someone’s late mother is very sweet and effective.

Again, not an actor’s movie. But give credit where it’s due.

And judging from the entertaining blooper reel at the end, it looked like everyone had a fun time making this flick. If I were involved, I’d probably have a blast too. I definitely had fun watching this film…and I’d undoubtedly have fun watching a sequel if they would just make one already!

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