To varying degrees of success, the “Scary Movie” films (and other similar titles) have done a fairly thorough job spoofing horror movies. Heck, plenty of those slasher franchises lasted so long that they became parodies of themselves.
The latest entry in this endless beatdown of an already critically reviled genre is “The Final Girls”.
Max (Taissa Farmiga) is the daughter of struggling actress Amanda (Malin Akerman). You see, years earlier, Amanda starred in a slasher film ‘Camp Bloodbath’ that she has never been able to live down. Unfortunately, a car crash kills Amanda, leaving Max devastated.
Three years later, Max, her best friend Gertie (Alia Shawkat) and cute guy Chris (Alexander Ludwig) go, at the insistence of Gertie’s brother Duncan (Thomas Middleditch), to a double feature for “Camp Bloodbath” and “Camp Bloodbath 2”. Chris’ ex-girlfriend Vick (Nina Dobrev) is also in attendance. A fire in the theater causes everyone to panic. Thinking quickly, Max cuts a hole in the screen and the group of mostly friends escapes.
When they come to, they quickly find out that they are inside the movie. This forces them to play out everything that they recall being in the plot. On the bright side, Max can finally see her mother again…in one form or another.
Will the gang survive? Will they escape the movie? Will Max be able to reconnect with her mother and somehow change what is to happen to her?
If you are willing to just go with the concept, it is amusing. Details like the characters’ confinement within the scenes, some of the music and the slavish devotion to slasher movie tropes is entertaining as well.
The visual aesthetic of the film is very odd. I get that it’s supposed to look largely artificial, being literally inside of a movie, but some of the bright settings are off-putting. The PG-13 rating really hamstrings this in terms of content but also the tone never gets dark enough to come close enough to being a pastiche. Aside from a few counselors getting killed, for long stretches, this doesn’t really feel like a slasher. Instead of even trying to milk some suspense from these situations, most of the deaths are played for laughs. True, some of them are well-done and funny but still…
As characters from the movie within the movie, everyone is suitably one-dimensional. Some are a little more broad than others, but this is just played for laughs. It’s close, but Adam DeVine stays on just the right side of obnoxious. Alexander Ludwig is stuck with a dull, obligatory love interest for Max and he contributes literally nothing. The relationship between Max and Nancy/Amanda is the film’s central conflict and adds some emotional substance to what could have just been a silly story.
Special features include: nothing.
“The Final Girls” has some good moments and performances, but fell short of this Examiner’s expectations. As long as you don’t anticipate too much from it, this isn’t a bad choice for a rental.
Rated PG-13 91 minutes 2015