Movie Review: ‘Final Girl’

Final Girl is an eerily beautiful, stylish, dream-like thriller about a young woman, the man who recruits her to become an assassin, and the group of young men they have targeted. In his directorial debut, photographer Tyler Shields has chosen to emphasize the visual over character development with a reasonably captivating plot to pass the time. While the cinematography is a metaphorical feast for the eyes, the plot is a bit thin and literally leaves you wanting to know more.

Abigail Breslin plays Veronica, a nearly emotionless teenager who was orphaned at an early age. Not long after her parents’ deaths, she is recruited by William (Wes Bentley) to become an assassin. Who is William? We never really learn. He briefly mentions that his wife was killed, but we get no information on the matter. During a chilling game of Truth or Dare, Veronica is asked for details on one of her truths and she merely shakes her head. This felt to me like a representation of the writer(s) responding to a predictable audience question; they know the plot is a little thin and they don’t care if they have to take a drink.

A group of murderous teenage boys rounds out the main cast of characters. They are charming, yet creepy, and have their own secrets. They lure beautiful women to an isolated forest to “hunt” them for sport, it’s just a game to them. Nobody in the small town seems to be aware of their hobby, including parents and the girlfriend of *one* of the guys (yet, inexplicably, William knows). As part of her training, Veronica sets herself up to be the “final girl” that they hunt.

Four experienced serial killers against one assassin-in-training might seem like an unfair fight, but she evens the odds a bit with a type of psychotropic drug that makes the boys just a bit crazier. The hallucinations add more to the surreal nature of the storytelling. I read Shields wanted the movie to feel as real as possible with limited special effects, but the edits in and out of the hallucinations, the lighting, and the story in general make it feel anything but realistic; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The look of the movie is what I found most captivating; a lot of bright lights set against dark backgrounds with many shadows in unnatural places. Many of the lights are focused on the main character(s) or actions, so as to draw your eyes into the primary action (basically like spotlights). There is also a timelessness feel to the film; could be modern times in a small town, but often looks like the 50’s or 60’s. All of the characters have a fashion style that could represent any era and there is not too much else to identify when this film takes place.

If you like Abigail Breslin or lone female assassins taking out serial killers, you may enjoy this film. But if you prefer depth or plot details, you may consider passing on Final Girl.

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