So, after all these half-century-old flicks, I figured it was time for me to turn my attention to some more recent entries in the horror genre. There have been some great ones this year, including some truly wonderful movies– I’m thinking specifically here of It Follows and Spring, both incredible new horror movies. There have also been a number of movies that I just haven’t seen yet– so now I will.
Last night, I watched Final Girls. It’s been getting a fair amount of interest, and it stars a lot of people I really like: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Ackerman, Thomas Middleditch, and Adam Devine, and Alia Shawkat, among others. I know the majority of the people in this flick from alternative comedy stuff, so I knew full well that this was going to be a campy comedy-horror flick. I know Taissa Farmiga from American Horror Story, where she acquits herself admirably, and can clearly hold her own in the legit horror world.
This movie was well worth the seven bucks. I highly recommend it.
So, I’m the kind of weirdo who actively avoids any spoilers at all. I won’t even watch trailers, if I can help it. I just take interest when movies hover into my field of interest enough for me to take notice of them– which isn’t hard, because I follow a lot of film and media bloggers. All of this is by way of saying that I’m not exactly sure what’s common knowledge about the premise of this movie and what’s not. I didn’t really know the basic premise of this movie at all before I watched it. I just knew that it had been getting good reviews (and also that Thomas Middleditch fails to jump over a velvet rope). So if you’re the kind of weirdo who, like me, prefers his movie-viewing experiences to be relatively unspoiled, you might want to quit reading.
So, the premise of this movie is basically that a small group of high school students actually enter a 1980s campground slasher movie, and have to contend with what they find there. That’s a rough encapsulation; one of the girls is the daughter of one of the stars of the movie, who has since passed away; there are somewhat complicated relationships between some of the characters, et cetera, et cetera. The important bit, the high-concept, is that a small group of modern teenagers enter a 1980s slasher flick.
And man, the whole thing is pretty stylish, and pretty meta. They keep encountering things like the original credits, and the original title screen:
At one point, one of the original characters in the 1980s movie starts spinning a flashback, and then all these weird icicles drop from the ceiling and encircle everybody:
Before whisking them back in time to the movie’s flashback (which is in black-and-white), complete with title card displaying the date. The title card is actually part of the scenario they have to interact with, stepping over it to get around it.
I’m a sucker for little metatextual bits like that. There are all kinds of little flourishes like that– at one point, Malin Ackerman’s character says something like “She always says the best thing in the world is smoking pot and doing it on a waterbed,” which is a direct reference to the movie Pieces, a terrible early-80s slasher flick I saw (and blogged about) a little over a week ago. I’m sure there are dozens more of these direct callbacks that I missed. This movie is wry and self-aware and deeply knowledgeable of the source material that it’s not-exactly-parodying.
Because it’s packed with all these amazing comedy actors, there is no shortage of really funny moments, both visual and textual. Alia Shawkat is a master of the ol’ dry-and-wry, and her talents are on full display here. Malin Ackerman can spin on a dime, from earnestly playing the 80s horror heroine to deadpan delivery of terrible horror-movie staple dialogue, which is hilarious. Thomas Middleditch and Adam Devine were clearly given a lot of room to improvise, which leads to all sorts of bizarre exchanges and hilarious moments.
Oh, and there’s no shortage of visually interesting violence.
The thing that surprised me most about Final Girls is that it actually has some emotional impact, and it comes in some pretty unexpected forms. There’s a cheesy striptease that actually manages to be sad and meaningful and really touching. A sad striptease. Not in the gross Requiem For a Dream sad way; not even in the gross Closer way. It’s sad in a new way, a way you’d more commonly associate with Pixar movies (the sad striptease summoned the same emotions BingBong did in Inside Out, if that means anything to you). It literally, legitimately made me tear up a little bit.
As I said, well worth the seven bucks. I recommend it.