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“The Final Girls” (2015) - Sam Gall's Movie Review Issue #25 Gem Mint 10.0

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

“The Final Girls” (2015) directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

“A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom's most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film's maniacal killer.”

Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Alexander Ludwig, Nina Dobrev, Thomas Middleditch, Adam Devine, Alia Shawkat

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1h 28min

You might like this is you like: horror movies, thrillers, slashers, comedies, horror/comedies, “Friday the 13th” franchise, Taissa Farmiga “American Horror Story”, Malin Akerman “Watchmen” (2009), Alexander Ludwig “Vikings” (2014-2020), Nina Dobrev “The Vampire Diaries”, Alia Shawkat “Arrested Development”, Thomas Middleditch “Silicon Valley”, Adam Devine “Workaholics”, if you’re big fans of “Silicon Valley” & “Workaholics” it’s a fun, strange actor crossover to see, 4th Wall Break films, movies about movies, echoes feelings of “Stranger Things” but that show is paying homage to the greats just like “The Final Girls” is but regardless if you like “Stranger Things” you might like this (bit more adultish, not R it’s PG-13).

Alexander Ludwig (left), Taissa Farmiga (middle left), Nina Dobrev (middle), Thomas Middleditch (middle right) & Alia Shawkat (right) in "The Final Girls" (2015)

The Final Girls” (2015) is a hilarious, fun adventure through horror cinema history. Fictional cinema history but fun and exciting nonetheless! Many props to director Todd Strauss-Schulson, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011) & “Isn’t It Romantic” (2019) and writing team of M.A. Fortin & Joshua John Miller. Miller’s father, Jason Miller, starring in “The Exorcist” (1973) was the inspiration for this film.

Miller on the inspiration for the film, “I grew up watching my dad in “The Exorcist”, and there's something haunting, strange, confusing, and a little bit unnatural to see your parent constantly die in a film. But it's something that also becomes iconic, and we tried to deconstruct what the effects of that would be, as well as what it would be like if you had a second chance, but your second chance was inside of a movie?

I’m sorry I’m so late to this film but I’m grateful to have discovered it at all. Thank you for the fresh, thrilling and heartfelt ride!

Taissa Farmiga in "The Final Girls" (2015)

My biggest pull into this film was the cast. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I believe films age well like wine. At least for me. Especially when a cast of actors, most before their time, get together and go off to become stars on their own. It makes the film when they were together so much better. They weren’t nobodies but to be honest I didn’t even know about this film until 2020. Five years! I’m a huge Malin Akerman “Watchmen” (2009), Nina Dobrev “The Vampire Diaries” (2009-2017), Thomas Middleditch “Silicon Valley” (2014-2019), Adam Devine “Workaholics” (2011-2017), Alexander Ludwig “Vikings” (2014-2020) and Alia Shawkat “Arrested Development” (2003-2019) fan.

Angela Trimbur (left), Malin Akerman (middle left), Tory N. Thompson (middle right), Adam Devine (right) in "The Final Girls" (2015)

I had seen the trailer for the film a couple weeks ago and by the time I actually sat down to watch I didn’t remember much. Specifically (and it’s not a spoiler, it’s the big driving plot line) the dealing with the grief of losing a parent. For some reason, that part went over my head in the trailer but ended up being my strongest connection to the film due to my own. All that aside, it’s one of the most enjoyable horror/comedies I’ve had the pleasure of watching!

"Taissa and Malin and Nina (Dobrev), when they read the script and we all met and decided to do this, it wasn’t 'Let’s make a horror movie.' It really wasn’t about that at all. It was really about this mother and daughter and getting a second chance to see your mother in a dreamworld. It was that that was compelling to everybody. And the horror stuff existed to push ahead that emotional idea." - director Todd Strauss-Schulson

Once again the cast was much of the excitement going into this film and throughout watching it. I’ve been a huge fan of “Silicon Valley”, “Workaholics”, “Arrested Development” and just a Nina Dobrev fan (yes, I’ve seen a lot of “Vampire Diaries”). It was so much fun getting to see them interact together. One scene in particular just felt like “Silicon Valley”s Richard was having an argument with Adam from “Workaholics”. Just that sentence intrigues me. I really loved Taissa Farmiga’s work in this she did a beautiful job. I knew her from the only season of “American Horror Story” I’ve watched (season one). I loved her in that and was pleased to see her in a strong leading role like this.

Thomas Middleditch in "The Final Girls" (2015)

Malin Ackerman who I’ve loved since her role as Silk Spectre II in “Watchmen” (2009) and seen pop up in other enjoyable roles such as, more recently for me, “Couples Retreat” (2009) which was a fun romantic comedy I hadn’t seen until now. John Favreau & Vince Vaughn 👌 Fun movie. Great cast too. Alia Shawkat who plays “Arrested Development”s Maeby was a sweet, wonderful joy to watch in this. Especially in such a genre blending film. Something I hadn’t seen her specifically do. Alexander Ludwig was amazing as well! Angela Trimbur was just crazy hilarious. Everyone made the film a blast to watch!

Nina Dobrev (left) & Alia Shawkat (right) in "The Final Girls" (2015)

The other aspect I really connected with was just about being a fan. It was very much a movie-commentating-on-movies movie but I could relate to specifically Thomas Middleditch’s character in wanting to celebrate an old film and being a cinephile. I also have always wondered what the perspective would’ve been like of having someone you loved pass away and being able to still see them on the silver screen. I’ve always thought film & photography were the closest thing to a time machine. That when you play a film where an actor starring in it has passed away.. they’re alive on that screen for that very moment. It’s movie magic. And I thought this film explored that idea beautifully.

"The Final Girls" (2015)

Pays homage to the greats, adds a fun twist to already loved genres, I honestly wish I had made this film. Seems like a blast to have to made. The cinematography was surprisingly creative in this film. So many memorable images. I think it’s in the trailer but the transition to the flashback was awesome. I loved the POV shot of the empty bottle that rolls under the theater seats. There’s a shot later where the camera does a long take and takes us from character to character during all the action.. There’s so much fun in this film. So much heart to it too that I wasn’t expecting. A touching way to bridge the real and the supernatural.

One of my new favorites. And stick around for the credits!

Written by Sam Gall on 07/22/2020

CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0

Official Trailer:

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