Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Last Girl Standing: What it Means to be the Final “Girl”
think the “men’s rights” movement would be more up-in-arms over horror movies.
Granted, survival rates are low for everyone, but they are practically nil for
dudes. Camryn is a case in point. She was the sole survivor of the so-called “Campfire
Murders,” committed by a psychopath dubbed “The Hunter.” Five years later, she
is still a basket case in Benjamin R. Moody’s Last Girl Standing (trailer here), which releases today on DVD in multiple
territories, including the U.S. (from MPI) and the UK (from Icon).
survived, but she has not gotten on with her life. She works a dead-end
wash-and-fold laundry job during the day and sequesters herself in her
apartment at night. Despite her standoffishness, Nick, the new register guy, obviously
kind of likes her. She also trusts him enough to seek refuge with him and his
houseful of hipster roommates after an incident with an intruder. Frankly, Nick
seems like he could be a candidate to be the final boy, but that probably isn’t
going to happen.
Camryn’s worst fears might finally be coming true when she starts to suspect
the Hunter is stalking her from beyond the grave. She was meant to be the final
victim in his macabre Pagan-Wiccan-Occult blood sacrifice ritual. Now, she is
worried he will start over again with Nick and his friends.
LGS is one of several
recent genre films to deconstruct the “final girl” tradition, including Todd
Strauss-Schulson’s best-of-the-bunch The Final Girls and the similarly titled The
Final Girl (shouldn’t that be “final women?”). Moody takes a radically
different tack, emphasizing the psychological and emotionally scars resulting
from a horrific trauma. As a result, horror fans might lose patience with its
slow burn. It will eventually get down to horror movie business, but in ways
that will numb rather than thrill genre fans.
it all works rather well on a dramatic level thanks to the cast (who have to do
more legit acting than most slasher ensembles). Akasha Banks Villalobos’s lead
performance is tremendously vulnerable and ferociously raw. It is up there with
Alex Essoe’s work in Starry Eyes and
Isabel Adjani’s subway freak-out in Possession.
Brian Villalobos also plays Nick with the right mix of guilelessness and a vaguely
ambiguous sense of potential danger. Chad Warren (who looks more familiar than
his imdb credits would suggest) adds memorable real world grounding as David,
the laundromat owner.
is definitely more of a character study than a slasher
movie. It also seems to be one of those horror movies that hates horror movies.
Inevitably, that sort of inner conflict leads to the cinematic equivalent of a
personality disorder, but it is rather fascinating to watch Moody’s screenplay
turn on itself. For horror fans, it is more of thematically interesting film rather
than a fully emotionally satisfying one. Recommended genre fans receptive to
its critiques, Last Girl Standing releases
today on VOD and DVD, from MPI Home Video.
Labels: DVD, Horror Movies