Born in 1980, Todd Strauss-Schulson may not have been old enough to watch slasher films at their pinnacle, but he’s certainly done his catch-up work on the subgenre since. His sophomore feature is a sharp, wickedly funny, and unexpectedly heartfelt homage (co-written by Joshua John Miller, that amazingly creepy child actor so memorable in Near Dark and River’s Edge). At its emotional core lies a tragic mother-daughter relationship: an ex–scream queen (Malin Akerman) dies, leaving her only child, teenager Max (Taissa Farmiga), distraught and missing her desperately. Three years later, at a revival screening of Mom’s crowning glory, Camp Bloodbath, a freak fire finds Max and four friends fleeing the theater through the screen... and directly into the movie (for an unusual family reunion if there ever was one).
It’s a gimmicky premise, perhaps, but a highly effective one. No mere meta-exercise, the film innovatively blends the worlds of the 1986 teens of Camp Bloodbath with the modern-day ones, prisoners of the high-camp classic, who must contend with a menacing Jason figure—the masked Billy, a vengeance-seeking victim of past bullying at the camp—as well as the occasional flashback and run-in with slow-motion.
Aside from its too bright, non-celluloid look, The Final Girls betrays its influences only in its PG-13 rating, which precludes the nudity and gore so emblematic of the real slashers. But no matter, the film moves along so quickly that viewers will hardly notice.
Smoke gets in your eyes: this year's edition included titles like Direct Action, exergue – on documenta 14, Favoriten, and Dahomey, all of which probe, in very different ways, the responsibilities of civic and cultural institutions