The Final Girls
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment – 2015
Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson
Written by M.A. Fortin & Joshua John Miller
The Final Girls is a cinematic breath of fresh air. When Max (Taissa Farmiga) reluctantly attends an anniversary screening of “Camp Bloodbath”, the infamous ‘80s horror film that starred Max’s late mother (Malin Akerman), she and her friends are mysteriously sucked into the silver screen. Shortly thereafter they realize they are trapped inside the cult classic slasher film and must team up with the fictional camp counselor characters, who are doomed to die by the hand of the machete-wielding masked killer.
What separates this film right off the bat versus all of the other films of it’s kind is the shifting tone that drifts between a tear jerking emotional love story, straight comedy and Friday the 13th.
Director Todd Strauss-Schulson goes for making the movie more magical than scary, which he accomplishes by combining hyper-real colors that leap off the screen from cinematographer Elie Smolkin’s photography and Katie Byron’s vibrant production design. Think of The Wizard of Oz in a Sleepaway Camp setting.
Taissa Farmiga stands out as the doe-eyed innocent daughter who relishes the opportunity to spend more time with her deceased mother (Malin Akerman), which is where this film should grab hold of your heart. I’m sure everyone would like to have the opportunity to spend time with a loved one who is no longer with us and in The Final Girls she gets that chance.
Malin Akerman plays Max’s mom with just the right balance of a loving mother and frustrated actress who never reaches her goal of becoming a movie star. This doesn’t happen for her because of being tied to a horror movie involving horny teenagers being slashed with a broad, heavy knife.
Thomas Middleditch is just about perfect as the horror geek aficionado who coaxes Max into making the appearance at the movie showing. He brings the obsessive love for the film “Camp Bloodbath” (something any true horror film fan can relate to) and his performance helps legitimize it’s dedicated passionate fan base.
Alexander Ludwig is dead-on as Max’s love interest character Chris Biggs. The handsome actor brings depth and soul to a character that usually would be written more shallow and I appreciated the movie never stoops to romantic predictability.
The Blu-ray of The Final Girls explodes with effervescent coloration. The way light is captured through the lens is augmented brilliantly with color correction and CGI enhancement, which really pumps up this movie’s enthusiastic color scheme. A couple examples that stood out were the electrical storm brewed sky and when the mask-wearing psychopath Billy Murphy (Dan B. Noris) chases the main characters in slow motion, he does this while totally on fire.
This Blu-ray & DVD comes loaded with Bonus Materials. There is Alternative Endings with Optional Director’s Commentary. Deleted and Extended Scenes with Optional Director’s Commentary. Cast & Crew Commentary which is not only informative, but fun to listen to. I particularly enjoyed hearing the comments from the Director of Photography and Production Designer. Writers’ Commentary I was fascinated to learn that one of the writers, Joshua John Miller was the young boy vampire in Near Dark. Previsualization: bringing Scenes to Life. Progression of Visual Effects. Director’s Production Notes can be accessed with Internet connection.
The Final Girls is a film that most certainly will garner a cult following. It’s got an innovative approach that strives to push the boundaries of conventional storytelling. It reaches for cinematic heights and wants to take a piece of your heart. The comedy isn’t always perfect and at times I wish the film was more focused on being scary, but that’s not what the director was going for. The end result is still a stunning movie you will make you laugh and maybe even cry.