The majority of horror movies are painfully predictable. Cute youths go to secluded location. Drink some brewskies. The heathenous, sexually active couple sneaks off commit carnal sins. One of which (usually the heathenous female) is immediately killed by a masked murderer. Oh no! A chase between the killer and the survivors ensue. The gang splits up because as well all know, better to facing impending doom alone. Jump scare. More friends are killed until the most demure and virginal girl is left to off the blood-thirsty serial killer who probably did not get enough love in his childhood. Credits roll.
The tried-and-true slasher movie formula gets old fast. But what happens when a genre-savvy team infiltrates an ‘80s horror flick? The Final Girls, directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, is is so chock-full of comedic digs at the standard scary movie that it seems unjust to classify it as simply a horror film. The story follows Max Cartwright (American Horror Story’s Taissa Farmiga), a girl grieving the loss of her mother (Malin Akerman), who just so happened to be a famous actress of the slasher genre in the ‘80s. Max goes to see one of her mom’s films with a group of her friends (a motley crew made up of Vampire Diaries’ Nina Dobrev, Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat, The Hunger Games’ Alexander Ludwig and Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch), only to be trapped in a fiery theater, forced to exit through a slit in the theater screen. This somehow magically transports the gang into the real-time events of the movie, where the millennials are surrounded by soon-to-be murdered young people of the ‘80s, who have no idea they’re in a film and whose dialogue is cornier than that in a Babysitter’s Club novel.
That’s where the film gets meta, because while it makes fun of the tropes of a standard-horror flick, The Final Girls obeys them as well, making the movie-going crew battle a once two-dimensional killer who becomes all too real to them. Furthermore, the choice to cast Ludwig as one of Max’s friends is somewhat ironic, seeing as he just was in a simarly-meta but poorly-received horror flick earlier this year named Final Girl, in which he played a killer who is targeted by his demure, virginal female prey, played by Abigail Breslin. Both The Final Girls and Final Girl join the growing trend of self-aware horror films (think 2012’s knockout The Cabin in the Woods). As entertaining and refreshing as this new sub-genre is, it’s only a matter of time before the trend gets even more meta and horror movies begin to make fun of the horror movies that make fun of horror movies. Soon enough the horror industry will just be one big Matryoshka doll, an idea which is horrifying enough in and of itself.
The Final Girls premieres Oct. 9.