Camp Bloodbath is pretty much
what it sounds like. The early 1980s slasher film has a loyal cult following,
but nobody would what to become a part of it. After all, there will only be one
young scantily clad woman who survives the massacre. Sadly, it is not the
character played by Max Cartwright’s actress mother. That makes it even more
disconcerting for her when she and her high school associates are swept into the
vintage exploitation movie. Not even the Scream
franchise was as satirically meta and self-referential as Todd
Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
and her mother Amanda Cartwright were always scuffling, but at least they had
each other—until the fatal accident. Her biggest part was Nancy the camp counselor
who unwisely relinquishes her virginity in Camp
Bloodbath. Unfortunately, its campy reputation was more of a hindrance than
a help whenever Cartwright auditioned for parts. Therefore Max has rather mixed
feelings towards the film. Nevertheless, she agrees to attend the anniversary
screening organized by her best friend Gertie’s annoyingly Tarantino-esque step-brother
Duncan, in exchange for help in the class she is failing.
Chris, the classmate she is most definitely interested in, comes to offer moral
support. Less agreeably, his codependent ex also tags along to gum up the works
as best she can. Somehow, when disaster strikes they are all supernaturally
transported into the world of Camp
Bloodbath. Of course, it takes a while to figure out where they are and
what are the rules that apply to them. Fortunately, Duncan knows precisely when
and where bullied camper turned savage serial killer Billy Murphy will strike.
They assume if they stick close to surviving “final girl” they should be fine.
However, that will not be Nancy, whom Cartwright cannot help relating to as her
a doubt, Final Girls is the best
horror send-up since the original Craven-era Scream films. While there are a decent number of laughs, it is more
about visual inventiveness than set-ups and punchlines. The world of Camp Bloodbath is actually a closed
ecosystem that strictly follows its own rigid logic. Frankly, it all makes
perfect sense if you are a horror movie fan.
Final Girls also features an
unusually big named cast for a horror spoof-nostalgia trip. Honest to goodness,
Malin Åkerman is shockingly sweet and poignant as Amanda Cartwright and the
character of Nancy as played by her. She also has some really nicely turned
scenes with Taissa Farmiga, who makes a worthy prospective “final girl” as Max.
As Gertie, Alia Shawkut is sort of doing her Arrested Development shtick again, but it works pretty well in the
film’s context. However, Angela Trimbur and Tory N. Thompson steal scene after
scene as Tina the nymphomaniac counselor and Blake the ultra-New Wave
It will probably be a cold day in the
netherworld before production designer Katie Byron, art director Alexi Gomez
and the rest of the design team get the awards recognition they deserve for Final Girls, but they make the film look
terrific, in an eccentrically macabre way. Movie fans with any love for
eighties horror will find it seriously stoked by M.A. Fortin & Joshua John
Miller’s thoroughly clever screenplay and Strauss-Schulson’s high energy level.
However, viewers should be cautioned to look for that plural “s.” The recently
released Final Girl singular is an
entirely different film. Highly recommended for retro genre connoisseurs, The Final Girls opens this Friday (10/9)
in New York, at the AMC Empire.
Labels: 1980's, Horror Movies, Mash-Ups