Todd Strauss-Schulson’s horror-comedy The Final Girls is funny, tense, clever, and surprisingly emotional. Five modern teenagers are transported into the events of an in-universe, campy, horror classic Camp Bloodbath. I won’t go into great detail beyond that, as the movie’s main strengths lie in a couple of early twists and turns.
This is another in the still-growing list of “trope inversion” movies. Like Cabin in the Woods and Tucker and Dale vs Evil before it, it takes horror movie tropes and has fun flipping them on their heads. When a dramatic chase scene turns on the slow-mo, the characters wonder why their speech is slurred and why they can’t move properly.
The casting and dialogue work in tandem to really shine. Taissa Farmiga and Malin Ackerman deliver the emotional force behind the movie as the two main characters, and have several compelling and touching scenes. Special mention, however, must be given to Workaholics’ Adam Devine and Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch as the two funniest roles of the movie: the babe-slaying jock, and the dweeby horror movie buff, respectively. Their lines put together result in about eighty percent of my laughs through the film.
As this is only Strauss-Schulson’s second feature film, I found myself very impressed with the direction and cinematography. I am admittedly geeking out here, but the color composition in particular deserves a lot of praise. The whole “movie inside a movie” is slightly overexposed, creating the idyllic “summer camp” effect through lots of vibrant yellows and greens at the beginning, and as the movie takes a turn for the dark, those colors shift to violets and reds, bringing about visually striking moments.
There are really only two things that set the film back. The first is that this style of trope-inversion has been done before, and the two obvious comparisons of Cabin in the Woods and Tucker and Dale vs Evil were done a little more effectively. The other is a minor, and somewhat pedantic complaint, but there are times when the movie sets up rules for itself and then either breaks them or just seems to forget that the rules were there in the first place; I found myself being just a little drawn out of the experience each time that occurred.
Overall, I highly recommend The Final Girls. Grab some beers and some friends and have a watch. If you’re a fan of the genre or only dipped your toe into the world of horror, it should draw a lot of laughs and maybe a tear or two.
This film is currently available at RedBox and for digital rental on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu and more.