The Final Girls is one of the better surprises of 2015 with some clever writing, a fun plot device and some unexpectedly genuine moments with the mother-daughter storyline. The Blu-ray has a fair amount of features especially the two commentary tracks and the video and audio transfers are more than adequate for the genre.
The Final Girls
Genre(s): Comedy, Horror
Sony | PG13 – 91 min. – $30.99 | November 3, 2015
THE MOVIE – 4.25/5
Nowadays there aren’t many films that surprise and you get into this part of the season (October/November) and you get a lot of dreck, both direct-to-video and theatrical releases. I’m happy to say, The Final Girls was a pleasant experience poking fun and the ridiculousness of the 1980s slasher but with some wonderful, and genuine, heart at its core with two of its characters.
The movie opens on teenager Max Cartwright (TAISSA FARMIGA) waiting for her actress mother Amanda (MALIN AKERMAN) who has just left another failed audition courtesy of her appearance in a cult horror classic “Camp Bloodbath”, a role which she is only known for. As the pair travel back home, they get into a car accident flipping the car end-over-end (with poor CGI) killing Amanda.
We fast forward three years to the day, Max still reels from the loss of her mother, hangs out with her best friend Gertie (ALIA SHAWKAT) and helps study with crush Chris (ALEXANDER LUDWIG) who has recently broken up with her former best friend Vicki (NINA DOBREV), the classic high school bitch. When she gets an offer to attend a double screening of “Camp Bloodbath” and its sequel “Camp Bloodbath 2: Cruel Summer” put on by Gertie’s socially awkward step-brother Duncan (THOMAS MIDDLEDITCH), she reluctantly accepts only after Duncan agrees to write her papers.
At the screening, where Chris shows up followed by a jealous Vicki, the screening starts bringing forth painful memories seeing her mother onscreen but before long, with a series of unusual circumstances involving a spilt bottle of liquir and a cigarette, soon enough the theater is engulfed in flames. With the audience scrambling about and exits blocked by flames, the only way out is through the screen. Max, Gertie, Chris, Vicki and Duncan enter and awake inside the movie itself!
Now they must attempt to get out which involves keeping away a machete-wielding killer and interacting with colorful characters intent, with the tropes of any slasher flick, to be his next victim save for one, Tina, who they count on saving them by killing the maniac in the hopes they can get back home. In the meantime, Max uses the opportunity to hang out with her mother as “shy girl with the clipboard and guitar”, Nancy.
Other characters from “Camp Bloodbath” include: horny skeezball Kurt (ADAM DEVINE), all-around slut Tina (ANGELA TRIMBUR), bad girl/hopeful heroine Paula (CHLOE BRIDGES) and token black guy Blake (TORY N. THOMPSON), all filling the roles seen in any number of the ‘80s slasher flicks, this one taking obvious cues from Friday the 13th.
I have to say, I really liked The Final Girls, a rare breed of movie able to mix comedy, horror (paying both respect and mockery of the genre) and strangely heart-pulling drama with the mother-daughter storyline. When the comedy worked, it really did, with sharp timing with the jokes and the ability to move from more dramatic moments to brilliant jokes seamlessly (for those who have seen it, the slow-mo sequence is representative).
Beyond the screenplay, by M.A. Fortin & Joshua John Miller (both with limited titles to their names), but the acting is brilliant headlined by Taissa Farmiga showing acting does run in the family (big sister is Vera Farmiga) and she taps into her inner-Jennifer Love Hewitt here, and Malin Akerman, who I’m fan of on “Childrens Hospital”, shows her dramatic side in a few scenes. The rest fill out their respective roles rather nicely as well, especially Adam Devine as the stereotypical horny jock and Angela Trimbur as the residential airhead.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
Audio Commentaries – 1) Cast & Crew including Director Todd Strauss Schulson, Production Designer Katie Byron, DP Elie Smolkin and Actors Thomas Middleditch, Taissa Farmiga and Angela Trimbur; 2) Writers M.A. Fortin & Joshua John Miller. Both are good though the first is a bit looser and a lot like a party yet still provides some behind-the-scenes stories and how certain shots were filmed.
Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes (21:42; HD) – Here we get 9 scenes cut or trimmed including two alternate endings. These come with optional director’s commentary.
Pre-Vis Animation (5:30; HD) include looks at the car crash, theater fire, campsite entrance, campsite spin and booby trap, before they went to shoot these scenes.
Visual Effects Progression Reel (2:33; HD) looks at the VFX in the film from original shots to what was seen in the film.
Director’s Shooting Notes is viewable only through a BD-ROM drive.
Previews – Insidious: Chapter 3, Air, Ricki and the Flash, Aloha, Pixels
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases The Final Girls presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture is decent enough with sharp detail levels, colors are generally bright and dark scenes are nice and stark showing no signs of artifacts and aliasing. It’s a nice looking HD transfer though nothing fantastic but considering the budget, it’s good enough.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
On a similar note, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track offers crisp and clear dialogue throughout and while when we do get the few slasher scenes, it doesn’t show off much depth. The center channel provides the bulk of the audio and the front and rear speakers are used for the soundtrack (including “Bette Davis Eyes” and “Mickey”) and score by Gregory James Jenkins.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, The Final Girls is one of the better surprises of 2015 with some clever writing, a fun plot device and some unexpectedly genuine moments with the mother-daughter storyline. The Blu-ray has a fair amount of features especially the two commentary tracks and the video and audio transfers are more than adequate for the genre.
Brian Oliver a.k.a. The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.