Horror Satire ‘The Final Girls’ is Metafictional Comedy Gold

Released last month on home video, The Final Girls takes a page from metafictional horror films of the past with its use of key tropes from the genre. Although unlike The Cabin in the Woods and Scream—which take place in “the real world,” where the killers take their ideas from the movies—the characters of The Final Girls literally go into the fictional film within the film.

On the third anniversary of her actress mother’s death, Max Cartwright agrees to come to a showing of the cult horror film Camp Bloodbath. Suddenly a fire breaks out in the cinema, blocking all the exits. Max and her four friends cut the screen to climb behind it. Instead of escaping they enter the movie with no visible way out. Here they try to find a way back to reality without being killed by masked antagonist Billy Murphy.

The setting is a deserted summer camp. Anyone who has sex will be killed. A virginal girl is destined to be the one to bring down the murderer. References to ‘80s pop culture are everywhere. On top of story constrictions, they are also subjected to filmmaking techniques like flashbacks, slow motion, narration, and an ominous score.

The title itself is a reference to the final girl trope in slasher films. Prominent examples of these characters are Laurie from Halloween, Ginny from Friday the 13th Part II, and Nancy from A Nightmare on Elm Street.

At the heart of it, The Final Girls is a story about coping with loss and accepting the death of a loved one. Co-writer Joshua John-Miller, son of The Exorcist star Jason Miller, wrote the film as a way to cope with the death of his father. For being a horror comedy parody it’s surprisingly emotional in places. The characters are mostly genuine and very likable.

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