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Final Girl: The Review

Director: Tyler Shields

Cast: Abigail Breslin, Alexander Ludwig, Wes Bentley, Cameron Bright, Logan Huffman, Reece Thompson

Plot: A group of boys who hunt women in the forest for fun have the tables turned on them, when they pick up a girl (Breslin) who has been training to take them out.

A quick summary of Final Girl suggests that it is a slasher movie that got inspired by You’re Next and tries to mimic the general story of the genre with the small exception that the female victim turns around and butchers the bunch of murderers chasing her down. Fair enough. It’s a nice change of pace for the genre, even if it does turn it into a predictable narrative, especially when we are dealing with a B Movie Wednesday article, lacking the budget to provide the shocks and thrills that Adam Wingard had access to with You’re Next. However, as it opens up, the first scene catches you off-guard. Wes Bentley, dressed in a suit and shadows, calmly explains to a young girl that her parents are dead, before throwing a bunch of mind tests in front of her. A training montage later and that young girl has evolved into Abigail Breslin’s assassin-in-training, ready for her first kill. Only then do the slasher trademarks come into play, suddenly giving us the same old movie, but with a fresh dynamic thrown into the mix.

It is such a shame that the direction is particularly lifeless. This movie boasts a handful of good ideas, but it doesn’t really feel inspired to make anything of them. Abigail Breslin’s assassin is asked to play the undercover helpless heroine, so we never really see any of the actual character, just the naïve blonde girl hanging out with a gang of four creepy guys. Therefore that interesting opening ten minutes feels totally wasted, as it is pretty much abandoned for the usual scares and pacing. Breslin never really feels like the in-control-assassin turning the tables on the killers, for some reason, almost as if the character is coming across as unnatural to her. Only nearer the end does she really come across as the ultimate female action hero and by that point, the transformation feels a little forced, the dialogue not really hitting home as much as it should have. Mind you, this is better than when she is alone with Wes Bentley’s mentor figure, as it almost suggests that Final Girl is going to try and copy Leon with an inappropriate love story working its way into the wings. Better are the actors playing the killers, even if it takes a while to get used to them. The word ‘over-acting’ springs to mind, although eventually you get on board with it, because it is the only thing that offers something slightly different. Alexander Ludwig, in particular, shines. His character feels like an extension of his baddie in the original Hunger Games and it is easy to see the similarities. He hunts a strong female lead through a wooded area for sport, finding some perverse meaning of life in the thrill of the chase. If anything, the movie works for him, because he gets to retread ground that the Hunger Games movie didn’t have time to really explore. If Ludwig grows into a big-time actor, this could end up being an important movie in his filmography. However, if he is trapped in dull movies like this, that doesn’t seem like a likely scenario in the next five years.

The truth is, after that interesting opening, the movie stops developing. It is almost as if Tyler Shields deems that enough to make an original movie. Breslin and Bentley’s characters are kept in the shadows so much that we never understand them. When the creepy rapists get more characterisation than you, you should start questioning why you agreed to star in this movie. The audience hang onto this movie, waiting for that one twist that will make their appearance in the movie make perfect sense, yet it never comes. It is never explained why Breslin is hunting down these hunters. Is this some form of vigilantism? Is this something to do with Wes Bentley’s personal back story? I don’t mind the ambiguity, but there are a few throwaway lines of dialogue that suggested more plot was hidden in the shadows, making the resolution unsatisfying. The ending is particularly flat. Mind you, so is the whole movie, so…

Final Verdict: It works as a routine slasher genre entry, but seeing as more is promised in the early scenes, Final Girl feels a little half-assed.

Two Stars