Review by Andrew Wertz
The Final Girls is a mocking love letter to the horror genre, similar to Cabin in the Woods, and the new TV series Scream Queens. The FInal Girls sets itself apart in the cluttered sub-genre by being overtly silly and often getting away with it in style. Although the film doesn’t often get big laughs, the fantastic cast and smart writing carry the film and make it a great meta horror comedy.
The main characters of The Final Girls are modern teenagers that magically enter a campy 1980s slasher movie. Although the premise doesn’t totally make sense, it doesn’t really have to, and it fits the lighter tone of the film quite well. The characters total self awareness gives the film a different angle than other horror comedies, as they can use their knowledge to bait the killer and exploit the tropes of the genre, like flashbacks and nude scenes. The film takes a specific target at the B-slasher movies of the mid-80s, and simultaneously mocks and earnestly imitates the corny jokes and over-the-top horror and effects.
The fantastic cast of The Final Girls carries the film through occasional lulls and pacing problems, particularly during the slower beginning of the film. Adam Devine delivers a particularly memorable performance as Kurt, the doomed horndog camp counselor, equipped with dozens of cheesy ‘80s zingers.
Max, the protagonist, played by Taissa Farmiga, is the emotional root to the film. Her late mother portrayed one of the butchered counselors in the film, and Max tried to change her mother’s fate and ensure her survival in the film. The two share a few quiet scenes that add emotional depth to the film, and successfully roots the fantasy film in some sort of reality that an audience can connect to.
At times, The Final Girls falls victim to emulating its source material a little too closely: If you model your film off of campy and cheesy movie, you may make a campy and cheesy movie. The movie suffers at times from what it is critiquing. There are often tiring jokes about 80s teens being baffled by current technology, and many of the cornier moments are delivered with a wink to the camera, which becomes a little repetitive after a while.
The film heavily relies on a faux-80s special effects aesthetic that doesn’t totally work. However, the music is absolutely spot on, with a soundtrack full of 80s classics and an excellent synth soundtrack by relative newcomer Gregory James Jenkins. The Final Girls can occasionally go a bit overboard with the 80s cheese, but it is a welcome and unique addition to the satirical horror genre.
THE FINAL GIRLS debuting on Blu-ray & DVD November 3 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.