A group of friends find themselves trapped in a 1980s slasher film in The Final Girls. Max Cartwright (Taissa Farmiga) is a teenager still mourning the tragic death of her actress mother Amanda Cartwright (Malin Akerman). Max goes with her friends Chris (Alexander Ludwig), Gertie (Alia Shawkat), Vickie (Nina Dobrev), and Duncan (Thomas Middleditch) to a late night screening of Camp Bloodbath, which starred Amanda as the character of Nancy. When a fire suddenly breaks out in the cinema, the friends try to escape through the screen and find themselves the world of Camp Bloodbath, where they join the counselors in fending off the machete-wielding killer Billy Murphy.
The Final Girls is a meta slasher film comedy, which is best described as Last Action Hero meets Friday the 13th. The goal of the film is to have fun with a lot of the tropes of the slasher genre, particularly the character of the “final girl,” who is the only one able to defeat the killer at the end. It can be argued that some of the hardcore fans of slasher films might be a bit turned off by The Final Girls, since it can seen as somewhat condescending of the genre, with many references to bad writing and the fact that “everybody who has sex in this film dies.” Probably the biggest piece of irony in The Final Girls is that the film has a PG-13 rating, yet takes place in an R-rated movie (the rating of which is seen at one point). Undoubtedly, this would have been a better film if it decided to have the same rating as the film it was mocking.
However, despite these shortcomings, The Final Girls still ends up being a pretty fun horror-comedy. There are a many clever instances of the film breaking the fourth fall, such as 3D title cards suddenly appearing or the fact that scenes will loop unless the film is played out the way that it is supposed to be. Then there are the usual fish out of water jokes, as the 21st century teens have to interact the 80s-era counselors. Probably the most standout of these is Angela Trimbur as the sexpot Tina, who gets one of the best moments in the film. The film also has Max befriending Nancy, as a very roundabout way of her getting closure with her mother.
The Final Girls is not the first meta horror film and it’s far from the best one. However, it still ended up being an immensely cheesy, yet immensely fun slasher comedy.