Horror/Comedy film The Final Girls is the perfect mix of laughs, scares and tears that one could ever hope to achieve. When I watched the preview for this film, I was immediately intrigued. I am a huge fan of classic horror movies, and from the trailer it seemed like it came from genuine horror fans rather than studio executives. Some of the cast members were instantly recognizable, such as Malin Akerman (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle), Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley), Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) and Adam Devine (Workaholics). Little did I expect this movie to actually move me emotionally and have me cracking up at the same time.
The movie opens with a trailer for an old horror film called Camp Bloodbath. Max (Taissa Farmiga) is watching the trailer on her phone while waiting in the car for her mother Amanda (Malin Akerman) to get out of an audition. Amanda bemoans the fact that every casting director seems to only remember her from said horror film. Max starts worrying about bills, which shows us her role as the family accountant, as Amanda turns up the radio and starts singing to her daughter. In The Final Girls‘ first five minutes, I became emotionally invested in these three-dimensional characters, and I was genuinely upset when their car crashes after about eight minutes.
The rest of the plot is simple: Max’s friend Duncan (Thomas Middleditch) convinces her to come to a screening of Camp Bloodbath three years to the day after her mother’s death in the crash. During the screening, a fire erupts in the theater, and Max is forced to cut through the screen to escape to the other side with her four friends. Inexplicably, they wind up in the world of Camp Bloodbath. Duncan, being a fanboy and thus our roadmap to the fictitious film, quickly realizes they are in the movie and must interact with the characters and follow the plot if they are to escape.
While Max is having trouble interacting with her dead mother via a character she played as a young actress, the audience is treated to a plethora of gags lampooning ’80s era slasher flicks and bad sex puns. As Max struggles to confront feelings about her mother with Nancy (the character Amanda is playing), we learn that for the gang to last until the end of the film, they must find Paula, the movie’s “Final Girl” who ends up slaying the machete-wielding killer, Billy.
Throughout The Final Girls, characters are killed off in classic slasher film fashion with one discernible difference: I actually felt bad for the characters being killed and was sad to see them go. In most horror films, not only do I not care about any of the characters being killed, but most of the time I also can’t wait for them to die. When The Final Girls reached its climax and Nancy, now self-aware that she is a movie character, sacrifices herself for Max, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes, which is a first while watching a horror film. I encourage anyone who wants to see a spoof of ‘80s horror films while gearing up for Halloween to check out this film; you won’t regret it.