When it comes to meta slashers, films like Scream, Cabin in the Woods, and Behind the Mask are often the first to come it mind. And while all of these satirically poke fun at horror tropes, none go quite so far into deconstructing slashers than the often overlooked The Final Girls.
Released in 2015, it literally takes its characters into a horror movie that they must survive by relying on their horror trope knowledge. So as we enter summer and start re-watching all of our favorite camp slashers, let’s not forget about this often overlooked gem!
Celebrating Horror Fandom
Right from the very beginning, we see the character attending a screening of the horror classic movie-within-the-movie “Camp Bloodbath”. Being someone who lives near an old school movie theater that shows classic films, this was a lot of fun to see portrayed on screen.
Going to screenings like this are a lot of fun, especially when it’s a movie that came out before you were born or old enough to see it in a theater.
Tons of Thinly Veiled References
A movie like Scream has the benefit of fully taking place in the “real world” so the characters are able to reference many actual horror films that the audience know and love (Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, The Exorcist, Carrie, and many more).
But because The Final Girls exists in a more surreal blend of real and movie world, its references come in the form of thinly veiled homages. These include an ode to all camp based slashers like the entire Friday the 13th series.
As well as Billy the killer getting his name from Black Christmas and his backstory from The Burning. And the “sequel” they go to at the very end takes place in a hospital, much like Halloween II.
Going the Furthest into Meta Territory
As many meta horror films break the fourth wall, none go as far as to actually send their characters into a horror movie. Because of this, it makes it easier for the audience to see themselves in the characters, because they too were just watching a movie before getting pulled into it.
Plus, it opens up this really interesting existential question about the consciousness and self-awareness of characters in a movie. We often lament and roll our eyes at how shallow characters can be written, and it’s really fun to see the “real world” characters challenge their stereotypes and try to get more out of them.
Making Use of Tropes
Ultimately, where this movie really shines is in its use of horror tropes to win in the end, even using Tina’s striptease to draw out the killer Billy, because that’s always when the killer strikes. Other meta films will address the clichés and tropes, sometimes even subverting them. But The Final Girls uses them to the characters advantage in a really unique and fun way.
If you’ve never seen it before, it’s definitely worth checking out!
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