HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Final Girls
HTS Overall Score:79
I wanted to see “The Final Girls” from the moment I watched the trailer 6 months ago. How can you go wrong with a dark parody of one of the 80’s most popular horror franchises? Steeped in the flavor of “Friday the 13th”, “The Final Girls” seemed like the perfect mixture of comedy and bloody horror, but when watched you realize it’s missing one thing. It’s missing the blood and gore (well, and the ridiculous nudity) that made the original “Friday the 13th” so iconic. So when you’re trying to replicate the action and suspense of that slice of history, the neutering of the final product was SOOOOOOOOOOOOO very obvious.
Max Cartwright (Taissa Farmiga) is living a life of mourning after the passing over her actress mother, Amanda Cartwright (Malin Akerman) who died in a tragic car wreck. Amanda was made famous by her first big role in the movie “Camp Bloodbath”, a horror slasher that pretty much typecast her for the rest of her life. Struggling to make ends meet she was trying out a job as a waitress when a car accident tore here away from Max. Max now has retreated inside of herself, barely making it through high school when a “Camp Bloodbath” reunion forces her to confront her past, in more ways than one.
A fluke accident in the theater causes Max, and her friends Chris (Alexander Ludwig), Vicki (Nina Dobrev), Gertie (Ali Shawkat), and Duncan (Thomas Middledtich) to be transported directly INTO “Camp Bloodbath”. Now that they’re in the movie, there seems to be no way out. Well, except for the traditional way, which is to let the movie end by having the killer, a masked monster named Billy, slaughter everyone but the final girl. You know, the virgin girl who’s the ONLY one to make it out of the movie alive and can kill Billy, thus stopping the movie and allowing them to move on.
The only problem is that now that she’s inside “Camp Bloodbath”, Max sees the character her mother played, Nancy, as a chance to save her long dead mother. Even though she knows the answer, Max desperately tries to save the characters in the movie, specifically her apparent mother, only to watch them die one by one. Even the friends that she brought with her into the film environment start getting axed, leaving her with no choice but to take up the mantle as the final girl, and kick Billy’s tail once and for all.
“The Final Girls” is actually really clever. The concept behind the film is a lot of fun, and had a LOT of potential. The only problem is that the entire film feels like it is a punch devoid of any impact. All of the kills, the thrills and the ooey gooey finale just doesn’t hit as hard as it could be. The reason for this is due to the fact that creators inexplicably made the film PG-13 instead of a good hard R like the films that it tries so hard to imitate and emulate. “Cabin in the Woods” tried a similar technique and succeeded spectacularly, but that was partially due to the fact Joss Whedon reveled in the gore and stupid nudity that made the old 80s horror movies so ridiculously appealing.
Even though the film was severely neutered by the PG-13 rating and lack of gore, the concept itself is fantastic and many of the gags and horror clichés are executed flawlessly. The whole booby trap scene where Billy comes in and gets his first taste of the hero’s wrath is just really well done. Even Adam Devine’s “Workaholics” style of humor fits in quite well, especially considering how stupid and moronic most of the humor is in “Friday the 13th”. The same goes for all the pokes and jabs at all the clichés that made the old horror franchise popular. They were funny and I certainly got a laugh out of the winking and nodding at the camera (including a few scenes where they imitate the 3D of the 3rd “Friday” film with the thrown dagger), but that lack of blood and gore just really robbed the movie of any true weight it could have had. I hate to jump on the “oooo that needs blood, guts and nudity to be good” bandwagon, but the entire PREMISE of those old 80’s slashers was based on that very same cheesy structure.
Rated PG-13 for horror violence, some crude and sexual material, language and drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=57769[/img]“The Final Girls” looks really nice on Blu-ray, with a strong 1.85:1 AVC encoded disc. The film itself gets separated into 3 distinct looks. Present, the movie, and the flashbacks in the movie. Each one has a distinctly unique look to it and each one with varying quality. The present day scenes look crystal clear and very natural color graded. Detail is fantastic and black levels look amazing. In the movie land itself, there is some boosted white levels that put up some halos and definitely a bit of lens flare. Detail is a bit softer and smoother overall, imitating the old 80s slasher (despite the lack of grain). There is some fake real tears as well as speckles and flickering going on, but that clears up as the movie stretches out. Lastly we have a black and white “flashback” world, which is completely devoid of colors, but does show off some VERY nice black levels. It’s a great looking image and the heavy stylization gives it a texture all its own.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=57777[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track is just about as good as the video. While there isn’t a lot of explosions or other high octane action oriented effects, the surrounds get a good workout from the faux “Friday the 13th” score, as well as the crunching of Billy’s footsteps on the floor and the sounds his machete blade tearing though material. Dialog is strong and clean, locked up front as one would expect, and the dynamic range is quite strong. LFE is tight and punchy, without being overbearing or overly aggressive. Sometimes I felt that the LFE was a bit TOO lite, as there were some great scenes with Billy stomping around the place with heavy footsteps, but that wild bass hit just never got to the crazy levels that some of the later “Friday the 13th” movie achieved.
• Alternate Endings with Optional Director's Commentary
• Deleted and Extended Scenes with Optional Director's Commentary
• Cast & Crew Commentary
• Writers' Commentary
• Progression of Visual Effects
• Previsualization: Bringing Scenes to Life
• Director's Production Notes'
“The Final Girls” could have really been a great parody on the slasher genre, and certainly tries its little heart out, but the simple fact that it was PG-13 and tried to appeal to too many different demographics really hampered the end product. The seriousness of the dramatic storytelling combined with the neutered blood and gore just didn’t feel right. I had some great laughs out of the material, but overall I have to say that the movie was just ok. Something that could have been easily remedied with some editing work and some more intensity. Audio and video are quite good, especially considering that the video was highly stylized to look vintage 80s, and there’s a goodly amount of extras as well. I’d say it’s worth a rental if you enjoy good old slasher movies, but it’s not something I would personally blind buy.
Starring: Taissia Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Adam Devine
Directed by: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Written by: M.A. Fortin, Joshua John Miller
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Thai DD 5.1
Runtime: 92 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 3rd, 2015
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