Max and her friends attend a revival screening of the retro slasher Camp Bloodbath. The film stars Max’s late mother and serves as one of the few remaining connections Max shares with her mom. When the theater catches fire, Max and her friends look to stage an escape but the exits are not easily accessible. So, they cut through the movie screen and instead of coming out the other side, they end up in the film. They are then forced to play by the rules of a slasher movie or risk being killed of by the psychopath stalking the summer camp where the film is set.
The Final Girls is directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson (A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas) and written by M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller. The screenplay is on point. It walks the delicate balance between satire and all out nonsense and it walks it impressively well. Strauss-Schulson shines as a director and his understanding of comedy and appreciation of horror tropes are both very evident.
I realize that the setup sounds peculiar on paper but it’s actually a lot of fun. And I wouldn’t change a thing about this film. It’s a sendup of the horror genre in the same vein as Cabin in the Woods but whereas Cabin in the Woods had its roots in several genres, The Final Girls is entirely focused on lampooning the slasher film. But not in the brash and raucous way that the Scary Movie series does. The Final Girls does so lovingly and while still managing to be entertaining and make you care about the characters. The cast of The Final Girls is composed of more than mere caricatures that we have no investment in. I deeply cared for Max and her mother. I wanted a happy ending for them and I found it easy to identify with them.
The entire cast is actually great. I wasn’t sure if I would like Taissa Farmiga in this because I wasn’t fully into her on American Horror Story but I dug her performance and thought she was extremely likable as Max. Adam DeVine (Pitch Perfect) turned out to be another great casting choice. I was unsure if he would be able to nail the role of slasher film meathead but he did it with precision. My concerns about his involvement were immediately assuaged. I was nervous about his character in particular because a good meathead is so important to the success of a satirical throwback effort like this and if he hadn’t understood what went into bringing that type of character to life, the film would have suffered.
The Final Girls is more comedy than horror but it still manages to deliver a few thrills and chills throughout. I was initially concerned that it secured a PG-13 rating but after seeing the film, I have no issue with that. Strauss-Schulson chose to really focus on the comedic angle and in doing so, he eliminated the need for a lot of the sex and violence I was initially hoping to see. There were a few scenes that could have been carried a little further with an R rating but in hindsight, I’m not convinced that the film would have been any better as a result. There was never a point in time where I felt like the film would have been funnier with the benefit of an R rating and since its greatest strength is its mastery of satire, I fully support the decision to target a PG-13 rating.
The film’s Blu-ray release comes with a pretty impressive set of special features, including alternate endings, deleted and extended scenes, each with optional director’s commentary; cast and crew commentary featuring Director Todd Strauss-Schulson, and actors Thomas Middleditch, Taissa Farmiga and Angela Trimbur; and writers’ commentary with Joshua Miller and M.A. Fortune. I absolutely recommend checking this film out. It’s one of the best horror comedies I’ve seen in a long time. You can pick it up on Blu-ray and DVD now!
WICKED RATING: 8.5/10
Director(s): Todd Strauss-Schulson
Writer(s): M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller
Stars: Taissa Farmiga, Adam DeVine, and Angela Trimmer
Release: November 3, 2015 Home Video
Studio/ Production Co: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Length: 88 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Horror Comedy, Slasher