TIFF 2015: The Final Girls
It’s been three years since a tragic accident claimed the life of Max’s mother Amanda Cartwright, former star of the Camp Bloodbath horror franchise. Now through a bizarre sequence of events Max and her friends find themselves trapped in that very same horror series, with no way to escape. They must do everything it takes to stay alive long enough to become… The Final Girls.
The Final Girls movie is a tongue-in-cheek examination of the horror movie genre. From credits popping up in the air, to class character archetypes deconstructed, to even physical flashback effects – if you can think of a slasher trope then this film has found a way to subvert it hilariously.
Thomas Middleditch as Duncan the obsessed horror superfan is amazing, bringing more energy here than in any episode of Silicon Valley. He is paired to great effect with Alia Shawcat as his snarky step-sister and best friend to Max. Nina Dobrev (on a break from The Vampire Diaries) takes the role of Horror Movie Bitch with glee and surprisingly depth.
Max (Taissa Farmiga) and Chris (Alexander Lugwig) have very cute chemistry as a potential couple trying to make it to the credits and explore their feelings, overshadowed only by the love that Max has for her mother. Malin Akerman did a great job of balancing her characters of the world-weary former starlet and friendly ingénue. All together it was pretty obvious that everyone had a blast making this film.
The real heart of the film though was in the genuine emotion brought about through Max and Amanda’s relationship. Max’s need to save this version of her mom from certain death is heartbreaking, hampered as she is by the rules of the film. As director Todd Strauss-Schulson said, it’s a touching examination of death and grief from a genre that typically takes them very lightly.
Sadly while very enjoyable, it’s unlikely that this film well ever make it to Cabin In The Woods status. The ideas are all there, the cast had great energy, and there are a lot of unexpected laughs. But lack of funding and an incredibly tight shooting schedule (26 days!) make it look like an indie SyFy movie. The death effects are so weak (out dinner off camera, that if not for the cursing it could easily get a PG-13 rating. It’s really a shame, because this film had the potential to be really great. The Adderall-induced striptease is one of the best things I saw during TIFF, and despite its flaws I’ll be sure to share this movie with my horror-loving friends.
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