When I was four, my family moved out of our cramped cabin-style home and into our new house down the road.
Moving meant that me and my older sister didn’t have to share a bed anymore after spending most of our short lives doing so. In then new house was a huge bedroom with two single beds. The room was done up in a pretty garish Mickey Mouse theme, but to any little kid, it was pretty sweet.
But having my own bed wasn’t so great. My oldest sister loves telling the story of our first night in the home. She was babysitting me, and I was supposed to be in bed sleeping.
While watching TV, she heard me calling her name. When she looked up at the landing upstairs, I had my four-year-old face squashed up against the railing.
“I just can’t like my Mickey Mouse bed, Jamie. I just can’t like it.”
My sister thought it was hilarious. But really, there was no reason for me to “not like my Mickey Mouse bed.”
And that, kids, is how I feel about The Final Girls. It’s a movie set up to basically please people like me, but from the get go, I felt an awful big dislike for it.
The 2015 film was met with pretty positive reviews, too. Which made it one of the top must-watch films on my list until it finally became available to watch on Netflix UK. But as soon as the film started, I knew I hadn’t got off on the right foot with the thing.
Max (Taissa Farmiga) is a young girl growing up in the valley. Her mother is Amanda Cartwright (Malin Åkerman), who played the part of Nancy in a fictional 1986 slasher film Camp Bloodbath. After another failed audition for Amanda, the two drive home and sing “Bette Davis Eyes.” But when Amanda is briefly distracted, the two get into a car crash that takes Amanda’s life.
Three years later on the anniversary of Amanda’s death, Max still struggles to cope with the loss of her mother. She has her good friend Gertie (Alia Shawkat) and her Classics tutor/hottie crush Chris, but the girl isn’t exactly taking on the world with much stride. Gertie’s obnoxious step-brother is Duncan (Thomas Middleditch) – a massive fan of Camp Bloodbath and it’s sequel. He begs Max to show up at the cinema’s double feature of the movie, and she reluctantly agrees when he offers to do the rest of her Classics work for the year.
At the showing of Camp Bloodbath, Max’s ex-best friend (and Chris’ ex-girlfriend) Vicki shows up. Vicki is hot, and takes loads of “study pills,” so we’re clearly not supposed to like her despite the fact that she has more charisma than a majority of the cast combined. But Vicki joins the group at the showing.
Initially, Max goes through with the showing but once her mom (as Nancy) shows up, she begins to struggle – especially when it reaches her mother’s death scene in which Nancy loses her virginity and gets killed on a water bed. But in a rather unbelievable chain of events, the cinema starts on fire and all the exits are blocked (because of course).
The five friends decide to slash through the screen and look for an exit backstage, but when they go through the tear, they wake up in Camp Bloodbath. They decide to wait it out, but the opening scene replays for them every 92 minutes. Eventually, they hop into the van with the camp’s counselors and decide to move forward with the movie.
It’s blatantly obvious that Camp Bloodbath is just Friday the 13th with every possible horror-movie reference thrown in (because they KNOW horror movies – get it??). Fellow horror comedy Cabin in the Woods did the same thing, but you know, clever. As with the classic slasher trope, everyone in Camp Bloodbath dies when they have sex.
When the kids arrive at camp, Max makes an effort to make sure that Nancy doesn’t have sex so she can survive the movie. The kids do plenty to confuse the movie (including the film’s Jason – a big man in an awful mask called Billy).
During a flashback, told by Nancy, the modern-day group watch as Billy gets tormented. While there, Gertie gets splattered in blood. Once the group returns to the camp in the film’s “present day”, the counselors freak out, which prompts the kids to tell the characters the truth: they’re in a movie.
That, unsurprisingly, doesn’t work well. Paula (Camp Bloodbath‘s final girl and most unconvincing virgin) and “horn dog” Kurt hop into Paula’s car to escape, but since they’re in the film – they don’t get far and smash in to the end of the road and die.
With the original final girl out of the picture, Max is voted as the new one since she is the only virgin left. That is, except for Nancy – who doesn’t understand that she will be killed off as well. The remaining movie characters and present day kids decide to set a trap for Billy and kill him off in a way that is different to the film’s original ending.
The climax is surprisingly entertaining – especially for being all over the place in the beginning. It’s hardly any fun to give anything away. Though there is a really weird part where Nancy does a strip tease while her daughter watches…? I don’t know. Is this endearing?
There were glaring issues with the film that I just couldn’t get over. For me, I just couldn’t get past the fact that the era of Camp Bloodbath was all over the place. As soon as Tina did her “strip tease” dance to Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” (which was released in 1990), I threw in the towel. If you want to do a movie about being in a movie celebrating a certain era in time – do it justice and do your research.
It’s slightly distracting that Nancy dies in the film. She’s clearly written as the archetypal Final Girl. She’s sweet, beautiful and a bit naive. Paula, on the other hand, is way too bad ass to be a believable Final Girl. She’s cool – too cool. I mean Laurie Strode was a total bad ass, but she didn’t wear leather. If Amanda’s character has to die, fine, but then make her the typical killed-off trope.
I will have to say, though, the relationship between Max and her mom (whether that be in real life or in the movie) is by far the most compelling thing The Final Girls has to offer. There are some really tender bits shared between the two …and some times that doesn’t work out the greatest but when it does, it offers something not many other horror movies do: human moments.
The Final Girls really is solid on a lot of original ideas. Unfortunately, it leaves gaping holes in logic that makes it hard to follow. I get that it’s a movie, but there could be easy/fun explanations for things. But the writers just couldn’t be bothered, apparently. And I guess that made me not really bothered with their film.
But who knows. Maybe The Final Girls will grow on me with time – just like my Mickey Mouse bed.