I could feast off of schlock horror and die a happy, gluttonous girl. It hits such a sweet spot for me that I equate it to my favorite dessert: cheesecake. Any flavor, any time, any place – yes, please. And while schlock is great, schlock spoof can be just as satisfying because it’s conscious of the fact that it’s shamelessly ripping on something that is far below serious. Bearing that in mind, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Todd Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls. I am happy to report that I nearly fell off my couch laughing (three words: Tina in mittens). Here are five reasons to run down and rent this one this weekend.
|This… is… awesome.|
Well, well, well. Look at what we have here: a film that tries to explore relationships, and winds up doing so quite well. We have a set of stepsiblings with syrupy stories and a genuine teasing dynamic, without any of the strange semi-incestuous banter that some films of this kind go for. We’ve got a daughter trying to be an adult and then later connect with a facet of her dead mother. We even get damaged friendships and jealous exes trying to assert territory. I was surprised not only at the depth that this one packed, but how well it was executed (pun not intended and it stays).
The name of the fictional horror film-within-a-film is called Camp Bloodbath. Camp Bloodbath is a nice mixture of Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp (the latter of which I cannot help but cringe at, if only for the bad name it gave curling irons). There’s even a bonus horror movie reference at the end of the film. It’s not just the thinly-veiled references to these films that makes this enjoyable – which, don’t get me wrong, is pretty strong in its parody. It’s the fact it also takes into account the ritual of the special viewings, from props to audience participation. Cult films are great when you’re watching them by yourself, and they’re even better when you get to sit in a room full of strangers and completely geek out. I loved that this aspect of the genre was included.
|We’re all in this together.|
I was going to just make this reason about Duncan (Thomas Middleditch), who is obsessed with Camp Bloodbath and knows all of the trivia, plot points and deaths. Duncan is a bit like me when it comes to the Evil Dead films. The character (and the actor that plays him) reminds me of Fran Kranz in Cabin in the Woods in the best way. There’s almost a nature-show quality in the way he observes the horror movie’s action. However… I can’t overlook Tina (Angela Trimbur), the oversexed camp counselor who cannot be contained by mere clothing. The further into the film we get, the more hysterical she becomes. I really couldn’t decide who I liked better, so they’re both a reason to watch this. Seriously, the mittens thing (especially when it’s time to move past them) is the best. You’ll thank me.
There are characters that you just don’t like, and you find yourself really looking forward to their deaths. That’s a sad truth in any horror film, but it’s okay to admit that out loud; we’re all friends here. Some are pains; some are beyond passive-aggressive; others just plain suck. So when they die (and rather humorously), you are afforded the chance to laugh. And laugh you shall. Likewise, this one pulls a neat hat trick in terms of redeeming the most unlikely people, giving a dignified death. It’s a nice change of pace from what we normally see.
|You’ll find yourself wearing this expression, too.|
This film loves some 80s music. I grew up on this stuff – as a kid that had a teenage sister in the 80s, I was exposed to a lot of the pop music of the time. Say what you will, the 80s had some catchy shit on the radio. Between Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” and Toni Basil’s “Mickey,” you’ll find yourself dancing around to it. The Bananarama is a nice touch too. I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t point out that the slasher flick action music (particularly Billy the Killer’s theme) is pitch-perfect. It really adds to the experience while making it hokey in the best possible way.