31 Days of Reviews: Final Girl (2015)

A sadistic group of men enjoy luring young women into the woods for their own personal hunting trips. This girl might just be the last one they ever choose.

The title of this movie is a play on the final girl trope that usually persists in slasher films. It details how there is typically one final victim, usually an innocent woman, to confront the killer and live to tell the tale. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Final Girl is a horror movie though. Final Girl leans far more into the realm of action, following in the footsteps of Hanna and Kill Bill.

Final Girl begins with a newly orphaned child, speaking with a man (Wes Bentley) after the death of her parents. The man asks her questions, testing her emotional state and her memory. Based on her answers, he determines that he will train her. At this time he also reveals possible ulterior motives for this training. His wife and daughter were killed by a very bad man, so he’s looking for special people to do a special type of job.

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The movie then skips ahead 12 years, when the girl (Abigail Breslin) has grown into a young woman named Veronica. She is in the middle of her last steps of training, approaching her final test. Bentley’s character, known simply as Will, leads her in some pretty vague exercises, including why a gun won’t always save her and to face her biggest fears.

At the same time, the audience is introduced to a group of teenage boys who lure young blonde women into the woods to hunt them like animals. These boys will be Veronica’s final test. She will set herself up as bait for them, and if all goes well, they won’t ever have another victim.

I feel like the narrative would have been a bit more interesting if there had been an element of surprise to it. It’s very straightforward. We know that Veronica is a trained assassin. We know that she’s volunteering herself in an attempt to kill them. There was no twist or anything of the sort. Would it have been more interesting if we, as an audience, had no idea that Veronica was a skilled assassin? Maybe.

Even when it came down to the final fight between Veronica and the teenage boys, it all felt very repetitive. I was never engaged with it. It didn’t feel as intense to me as it probably should have been. I’ve seen some people say they appreciated this format of the narrative, but I thought it could have been better.

One thing that really stuck out to me for Final Girl was how artsy it was. The director of this movie is Tyler Shields, a photographer. Final Girl was his directorial feature debut, and the photography roots are definitely visible. The lighting is very artsy. The shots are well composed. Final Girl is set at some point in the 1960s, so it has a nostalgic look to it, especially with the costumes and the settings.

Overall, the story just feels very blah. It’s unfortunate that more wasn’t done with the cast that they had. In the end, Final Girl is more about Veronica’s training than it is about the reason she was being trained. It’s formatted in a way that almost makes you feel like these four teenage boys are responsible for the death of Will’s wife and daughter. It took me a while to realize that the boys were literally nothing in the overall plan. They were just Veronica’s final test.

Will this movie have a sequel? It has the potential, but it probably won’t have a continuation. I would have liked to see more between Veronica and Will. Breslin and Bentley had a decent chemistry that I would have liked to have seen explored more.

Final Girl is available for streaming on Netflix if you choose to watch it. It’s got some interesting stylistic choices, but the story isn’t the greatest. If I were to recommend it, it would only be for the artsy blend of photographic lighting with film.

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