Film Review: The Final Girls

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Director and cast of The Final Girls at TIFF15’s Midnight Madness

80s nostalgia is apparently a thing these days and running rampant in pop culture (most prominently is Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens), but few are nailing it with such a fantastic sense of irony as The Final Girls, a horror-comedy homage to slasher flicks of Halloween past directed by Todd Stauss-Schulson (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas).

The Final Girls (referring to the last surviving girl who beats the villain in a horror movie) stars Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story) as Max, daughter of scream queen actress Nancy (Malin Åkerman, 27 Dresses) who passed away in a car accident. Years later, Max attends an anniversary screening of her mother’s claim-to-fame film Camp Bloodbath with her high school friends and peers. A fire wreaks havoc at the event and Max, in an effort to save her friends, cuts through the movie theatre screen to escape.

When Max and her friends jump through the hole, they end up in the actual film Camp Bloodbath, allowing Max to reunite with her mother and the rest of the cast of the film. With the threat of the Camp Bloodbath plot and the legendary Billy Murphy, a former camp kid seeking murderous revenge, Max must work with her mother, her friends and the rest of the characters of Camp Bloodbath to survive.

The Final Girls works because it never takes itself too seriously, even with the reunion between Max and her mother. It instead weaves that subplot amongst the several hilarious slasher flick tropes to play off more as a tribute to the highly revered genre with some semblance of an emotional grounding . That said, you’ll probably only enjoy it to the same extent that you can take its camp-y (pun intended) ways; from the hair to the humour,ch-ch-ah-ahs and John Carpenter-esque production, there’s a lot that may make you groan. It helps that a stacked cast of popular and young faces, including Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries), Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games), Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley), Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect) and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) are completely committed to the ridiculous ride and possess enough self-awareness to ensure that The Final Girls doesn’t try to convince you of much more than what it intends to be: an endearing, occasionally corny and well-intended celebration of the scary films that many of us grew up on.

I screened The Final Girls at TIFF this year. The Final Girls is now out in select theatres across North America.

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