THE FINAL GIRLS
Stage 6
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten for Shockya. Databased on Rotten Tomatoes.
Grade: C+
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Screenwriter:  Josh Miller, Mark Fortin
Cast:  Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Alexander Ludwig, Nina Dobrev, Alia Shawkat
Screened at: Review 1, NYC, 7/29/15
Opens:  October 2015

In yet another film that both pays homage to slasher classics and satirizes them, director Todd Straus-Schulson finds a villain in Billy Murphy (Dan B. Norris), a camper who, like the Phantom of the Opera is injured severely enough to have to put a mask over his head, then seeks revenge not only against those who gave him third-degree burns but to everyone else he can get his machete through in summer camp.

Camp is the name of the game in “The Final Girls,” a film that requires considerable suspension of disbelief in an audience who will probably show up in the theater ready to hoot and holler and show how much they know about just about every slasher picture that has received studio OK’s.  However, even at an hour and a half, this bizarre parody loses steam, plodding along in hopes of electrifying its targeted, juvenile audience.

Nonetheless the movie has some pro, deliberately cheesy visual effects and a typically booming soundtrack, both attempting to make up for the lack of scares and scarcity of genuinely comic touches.

After a horrendous auto accident in the current year takes the life of Amanda Cartwright (Malin Ackerman) whose bond with her daughter Max Cartwright (Taissa Farmiga) is obvious, Max ultimately comes out of her funk, attending a slasher movie “Camp Bloodbath” with her pals on the anniversary of the accident.  When the theater accidentally catches fire, Max and friends Nancy cut a hole in the screen and find themselves not only in a 1986 horror movie but one which unpredictably takes the group back to 1957.  In their adventures Nancy (Malin Akerman) is destined to be Max’s mom years later and therefore does not know that she is facing her future daughter.  Max also makes friends with Kurt Adam Devine), who thinks of sex all the time; Tina (Angela Trimbur) who pulls no punches about wanting sex even more; and ethnic minority stereotype Blake (Tory N. Thompson) will soon be faced by the threat of beheading from machete-carrying Billy.  Billy prefers to wait until his victims have sex before unleashing his fury.

But how to criticize a film whose campy dialogue is meant to be tone deaf?  Whatever the audience may feel, it’s obvious that the characters are having fun, all except Max, the lead, who comes across as humorless.  Yet even a parody of scary movies should be scary (as were the “Scream” series and “The Cabin in the Woods”), but this pic is, well, not bloodless, but still, shall we say “neutral?”

Unrated.  88 minutes.  © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – C
Acting – C+
Technical – B-
Overall – C+

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By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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