2015/10/12 19:16:34 +00:00 | Monte Yazzie

So you want to spoof a horror film? Well, there are already a few examples—some successful and some not so much—on how to do this. Scary Movie took the horror genre into overboard goofy and slapstick spaces. Shaun of the Dead played it straightforward with a near pitch-perfect mix of comedy and horror that appeased horror fans and crossed over with appreciation from non-horror fans as well. Scream played the genre against itself, establishing horror film rules and mixing it with great subgenre slasher elements, making the Wes Craven film a horror classic.

Of course there are others that could be discussed, early Abbott and Costello and the Universal Monsters movies or the 1981 spoof Student Bodies, but director Todd Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls is an impressive edition to consider. With a PG-13 rating, don’t turn away just yet hardcore horror fans, Mr. Strauss-Schulson hits nearly every mark with a mix of clever comedy and horror tropes that all audiences will appreciate. It’s safe horror for the masses and that’s not a bad thing.

Max (Taissa Farmiga) is a teenager who reluctantly attends a tribute screening of a 1980s movie called Camp Bloodbath, a film that features her deceased mother in the starring role. During the screening a fire erupts in the audience, leading Max and her friends to escape by cutting their way through the movie screen. In a twist, the group of friends are transported into the movie. In order to escape, the group of friends must survive the bloodthirsty killer and make it to the end of the movie.

These kinds of films are difficult to make. Film audiences are smart, especially horror fans, and when making a film that spoofs their beloved genre it doesn’t take much to turn them away. So it’s relieving that The Final Girls remains completely satisfying from start to finish. A major component of what keeps things together is the clever narrative. The comedic tone is playful throughout, largely because of Adam DeVine, who steals many of the scenes as a stereotypical chauvinistic jock, but also because the genre characteristics are utilized ingeniously.

For instance, in one scene the lead camp counselor explains the legend of the killer. As the film transitions into a flashback, Max and her friends experience the changeover from color to black and white. All of it is done with a grin, which is where one of the minor problems will exist for some dedicated horror fans. The bloody payoff, meaning the result of the stalking killer’s primary motive, isn’t very satisfying. There is very little gore in the film and much of the violence happens so quickly it’s hard to distinguish anything. For some viewers this comment will sound odd, but for horror fans this is a primary reason to go to these films, to see the exploitive visceral elements.

The Final Girls would be a great film to take someone on a date to or introduce to someone who may not like the genre, as the film is very much humor before horror. While more attention to the bloodier, gorier aspects would have more than likely lost the PG-13 rating—cutting out the large audience the film is focused towards—The Final Girls is still an entertaining film that everyone's different taste of horror can appreciate in some way, big or small.

Movie Score: 4/5