Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Final Girls


Here is an interesting premise, and for once they didn’t totally screw it up. I think it could have been better … but first, here’s what we got:

Max (short for Maxine, I guess) is the daughter of Amanda, a washed-up “scream queen” from the ‘80s, who starred in one cult slasher movie, Camp Bloodbath. Mom died in a car crash three years ago, and now Max is going to a screening of the movie. The theater catches fire and she and some friends escape by cutting a hole in the screen and jumping through. When they wake up, they are in the movie.

One point that is made is that these films follow a formula as rigid as a Shakespearean sonnet. You know, iambic pentameter, fourteen lines, rhyme scheme ABAB. With slasher films there is the cast: the not-too-bright Jock and his stupid Hot Babe, the Nerd, the Wisecracker, the Studious Girl, and a few others. Pick three from column A and two from column B. Then there is the Final Girl, the last one left standing who in the end fights Jason-Freddie-Leatherface and wins. She must be a virgin. Anyone who fucks, and/or the girl who gets topless, must die. And so forth.

They quickly figure out their plight when a yellow VW van drives up and a scene from the movie is played out. Then 93 minutes later, the van drives up again and the scene plays again. 93 minutes is the run time of Camp Bloodbath, and they can’t escape the van. No matter where they go, that van will appear around a curve and offer them a ride to the camp. They get aboard.

A lot of the rest is really clever. When there is a flashback showing how Billy became a deranged killer, they find themselves in black and white. Sometimes there is a spooky narration over the action. At the end, the huge credits appear coming over the horizon …

Max naturally finds it hard to deal with the ghost of her mother, who is actually the character of “Nancy.” And it all, surprisingly, gets rather emotional. I mean, I’ve never seen a slasher movie (and I admit, I haven’t seen many) where I gave a shit what happened to any of the people on the screen. They were just cardboard cutouts full of Karo syrup “blood,” with about the same emotional investment as I would have for a silhouette target at a firing range. They do a reasonably good job of it, but I think, in the end, it was a mistake. I’d have enjoyed it more if they had played it all strictly for laughs. I’m not saying there weren’t laughs here, but there could have been more if they had not gone the pathos route.

Such as … why not have boom mikes coming into the picture now and then? Or camera pans to reveal that there is no fourth wall on the set? We could glimpse the director and the crew, maybe even the writer as he scribbles and things come into being. Rain machines and fog machines, make-up people rigging blood bags … could have been pretty funny. Just a thought.