Nineteen years ago, “Scream” turned the slasher movie genre on its head by introducing a bunch of movie-savvy teen protagonists, in a self-aware, Metatextual commentary on the horror movies of the 80s to great effect. “The Final Girls” takes that post-modern ironic awareness to the next level by literally placing our cynical gang inside the very movie they’re watching.
When Max (Taissa Farminga) is persuaded to attend an anniversary screening of her late mother’s most infamous movie, the cult classic “Camp Bloodbath”, she and her friends find themselves pulled into the movie itself. Max and her friends must team up with the characters of the movie and use their knowledge of the film’s plots and the tropes of 1980s slasher movies to fight off the movie’s machete wielding maniac and stay alive until the end credits.
Although it starts sluggishly, “The Final Girls” quickly ramps up into a fun, fast-paced comedy horror once they are transported into the movie within a movie and it benefits from a surprisingly emotional core thanks to the added wrinkle of Max reconnecting with her late mother (Malin Akerman) through the character she played in an old movie. The rest of the cast of characters can trace their lineage directly from Kevin Williamson’s “Scream” template, right down to the horror movie super fan who knows the film’s dialogue word for word.
It’s an affectionate spoof of the slasher pictures of old, with some nifty realisations of what the world inside a movie would be like, including how on-screen credits would manifest. There’s a surprising lack of real gore which could have made some of the funny/ scary moments really pop. Landing more on the comedy side of comedy/horror, it verges occasionally on the all-out spoof, especially thanks to some prime ham and cheese served up by a hit-and-miss adlibbing performance from Adam DeVine but it succeeds thanks to a likeable cast, a slick and knowing screenplay and a deep love of the genre it’s subverting with.
Packed full of the same tongue-in-cheek reverence for its subject as “Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil”, “The Final Girls” is a whole bundle of fun; a perfect midnight movie for a weekend slumber party.