Not since Cabin In The Woods has a film captured my imagination in such an original or unforgettable way as The Final Girls. It’s a dimension-tripping, time-hopping madcap slasher piece, and it features some of the most beautiful cinematography found in horror today.
Nothing propels a genre narrative forward quite like a grieving heart, and in the case of The Final Girls our depressed protagonist is named Max Cartwright. Her mother, a B-movie scream queen, recently died in horrific car crash. Max has done everything in her power to avoid dealing with the loss of her mom, but with Halloween season in full swing she begrudgingly agrees to attend a midnight movie screening of her mother’s biggest role. There, without rhyme or reason, something magical occurs. While the room burns as the result of an accidental fire, Max and her friends escape through the movie screen and find themselves transported into the world of the film they had just paid to see.
In order to enjoy the meta humor of The Final Girls you have to be willing to make a leap of faith. You have to believe something magical can occur when someone needs to deal with a loss, and you have to believe that magic can teleport a group of friends into the world of a bad 1980s slasher movie. If you can make the leap, you are in for the ride of a lifetime as writers Joshua John Miller and M.A. Fortin quick prove they fully understand the genre and know how to leverage its numerous quirks to make their story come to life. It’s cheeky, but that’s kind of the point. There is an inherent silliness in the most basic form of slasher, and The Final Girls embraces it fully—even when it requires bending the laws of storytelling. You’ve seen a movie within a movie, but what about a flashback within a movie within a movie? That is where you’re headed when you purchase a ticket to this film.
Taissa Farmiga performs wonderfully as Max, which is a good thing as the task of making The Final Girls something more than a forgettable yarn ultimately falls on her. She carries the grief of her mother’s death convincingly, and when presented with the unique opportunity to meet another version of her within the film she cannot help wanting to see her outlive the final frames. This changes the course of the film for everyone, including the friends who only recently became a part of the movie, and soon the body count begins to rise.
In addition to Farmiga, The Final Girls is littered with a strong cast of notable midsize talents. Workaholics star Adam Devine is the standout of the bunch as Kurt, a character within the slasher film who portrays the stereotypical oversexed jock. Every line that falls out of Kurt’s mouth is cringeworthy, as if penned by a newly pubescent high schooler, and his actions are much the same. His main eye candy, Tina (Angela Trimbur), is equally hilarious as the cliché dumb hot girl. Other cast members include Silicon Valley star Thomas Middleditch as an excited horror fanboy, Arrested Development‘s Alia Shawkat as the fearless best friend of Max and Malin Akerman as Max’s mother.
The Final Girls offers the most fun you will have at the movies this year. From beginning to end the film is a high quality, relentlessly funny twist on everything you thought you knew about the world of slasher films, and it’s carried by a talented cast with charm to spare. A film like this could easily devolve into another mindless tongue-in-cheek yuck fest, riddled with dick jokes and far-too-obvious callbacks to genre classics. But instead The Final Girls chooses to find something familiar enough to be funny within a tale that is wholly original. You’ve never seen the film explored in The Final Girls, but you don’t need to in order to appreciate the magic the occurs inside its mysterious universe. Just kick back, grab some popcorn and dim the lights. You are about to have the time of your life.