"The Final Girls" Review:

I remember watching “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” marathons on the occasional Friday the 13th back in the day. Even though I would watch from underneath a blanket in fear, it was something about the slasher flicks that I enjoyed. “The Final Girls” is a celebration of the 1980s style slasher flicks. It knows what it is and what it’s doing. It’s a movie on the timeline of a cinematic history full of movies and it uses tropes from over the years to make its point. There is so much going on in the film that highlights the past through a contemporary lens, but in the best way possible!

Max (Taissa Farmiga) was always playing the role of the grown up with her mother, Amanda (Malin Akerman), a one time star of “Camp Bloodbath” 1 and 2. Three years after losing her mother in a car accident, Max is invited to a movie marathon of her mother’s biggest role by the franchise’s biggest fan, Duncan (Thomas Middleditch). Max drags her best friend Gertie (Alia Shawkat) to the theater. They run into Max’s possible new flame Chris (Alexander Ludwig) and his ex/mean girl, Vicki (Nina Dobrev). The teens double for the stereotypical characters that can be seen in “Camp Bloodbath”.

After a fire breaks out in the theater, the group try to escape through the theater screen to the back exit but are transported into the “Camp Bloodbath” movie, “Last Action Hero”-style. They soon discover they are stuck in a continuous 92-minute loop of the film and the only way to get out is to get involved in it. As the film moves forward, each cast member steps into their position. Duncan is the genius who knows the Camp Bloodbath movies in and out. While you may assume that you know how everyone else fills their roles, it’s their interaction with their counterparts that makes the film so interesting!  

As Chris interacts with Kurt (Adam DeVine), the jock of Camp Bloodbath, viewers can see the 80’s definition of the athletic male stereotype versus the 2015 version. Yet, where the movie finds a lot of it’s emotional depth is in the interaction with Max and her mom’s character, Nancy. The chance for Max to speak to her mom again turns “The Final Girls” into a fun movie with wit and heart.

For the film geeks, the movie is technically proficient and brilliantly executed. All the elements of slasher films are there for dissecting through humorous scenes thatserve the story: slow motion running, backstory flashbacks, stepping over titles, jump screams from the killer appearing in the window, swelling scores, and so much more that this review could turn into a paper. There are plenty of spoof horror films out that you probably can roll your eyes thinking about right now, but this I assure you is not one of those.

“The Final Girls” is an absolutely brilliant film that celebrates the process of filmmaking, the history of slasher films, and the emotions we feel as viewers when we go to the movies. You can’t reinvent the wheel that Wes Craven created in “Scream”. However, you can create your own brand. “The Final Girls” does that and some! Go see it now!

Rating: A+


Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.