It’s the third anniversary of scream queen Amanda Cartwright’s (Malin Akerman) tragic death. Amanda’s teenaged daughter, Max (Taissa Farmiga), reluctantly accompanies some friends to a special screening of her mom’s 1980’s era slasher flick, “Camp Bloodbath.” When tragedy strikes the theatre, Max and her friends suddenly find themselves within the movie. Armed with foresight and real-world awareness of their fictional predicament, they set out to save both themselves and the movie’s predestined victims.
“Camp Bloodbath” is sharply cut from the same fabric as “Friday the 13th.” A young boy named Billy is ostracized, bullied and disfigured by a group of counselors at summer camp. He eventually exacts a bloody revenge on those who harmed him by returning as a machete wielding masked maniac. He then plans to bring the same violent end to a new crop of counselors.
Those new counselors are spot-on exaggerated versions of those stock ’80’s genre characters. Akerman’s movie within the movie persona is the sweet girl who thinks it’s time to lose her virginity. “Modern Family’s” Adam DeVine outrageously plays the self-obsessed stud indiscriminately looking for his next conquest. Then there’s Tina (Angela Trimbur), the super promiscuous airhead, the dorky Blake (Tory N. Thompson) and bad to the bone Paula (Chloe Bridges), the Final Girl heroine.
Their equally spot-on real-world counterparts begin with Max as a Final Girl sensible version of her real-life mom. Chris (Alexander Ludwig) is a nice guy trying to escape his superficial ex-girlfriend Vicki (Nina Dobrev). Horror film geek Duncan (Thomas Middleditch) should be their greatest hope, but things don’t go so well for him. Alia Shawkat rounds them out as best friend and potential Final Girl Gertie.
“The Final Girls” affectionately concocts a fabulously clever PG-13 rated good time from a 30-year-old R-rated genre. The focus here is on fun rather than splatter and many of the deaths are actually hilarious. The visual style is at times eye-poppingly brilliant. A long shot of the setting for the climactic battle is one you’ll want to rewind and take in a couple of times. Fog rolls across a field beneath a gorgeously colored night sky lit up by brilliant lightening flashes and the effect is pure awesome. There are also some witty moments coming from acknowledging special effects within the move. Top notch production values, solid acting and smart writing make this much better than you might expect and result in a highly satisfying entertainment.