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    Final Girl (2015): Movie Review

    “Like its material, it is bound to get lost in the woods.”  

    Abigail Breslin plays a Nikita-ish femme fatale in the slasher film Final Girl, the directorial debut of fashion-photographer-turned-director Tyler Shields. In this highly-predictable stylishly-touched horror film, a hardboiled-trained assassin is up to stop a young boys’ kill club from their murderous hunting spree. 

    Young Veronica is the lone survivor of a massacre that took her family away. Orphaned, she is recruited by a mysterious guy named William (Wes Bentley) who also mourns over the loss of his loved ones. Twelve years of intensive trainings pass by and Veronica (Breslin) has become a case-hardened assassin, a lethal weapon to punish bad people.

    Now, Veronica is ready for her first mission on the field. Her first target is Chris (Alexander Ludwig) and his contemptible circle of friends. Forming some sort of a kill club, the young men lure young blonde and beautiful women deep into the woods where they will be hunted for sports. Incidentally, Veronica and Chris meet each other in a diner and their brief flirtation leads to Veronica being invited to a party.

    The fated night comes and the evil quartet leads Veronica, clad in a sleeveless red dress, into the woods. The supposed party turns out to be an evening of tainted alcohol, a game of truth or dare, and a breathless chase to survive. Unfortunately, the boys have picked the wrong target for their game.

    Shields’ experience in photography is manifested in Final Girl. The film looks stunning and expensive as shots are expertly framed and the background lightning is superbly dramatic. At some points, there is excessive lighting as scenes feel much lit with flashlights. Yet, shots could generally make great still photos.

    However, the lighting is not able to shed light to many of the film’s aspects as they are hazy and ambiguous. For one, the movie has an uncertain setting, but the slick-back hairstyles, tux and long dresses outfits, vintage cars and cheesy diners stir a 1950s atmosphere.

    Scenes also begin without prior explanation or introduction, resulting to lack of tension or depth of character. In fact, the entire movie seems underwritten as some things are missing such as the characters’ back stories, their motivations and some events in their lives crucial to better understanding and greater credibility of the story. Who really is Veronica? Who is William? Why does he have to recruit girls to do the job he can perform? Other than a brief glimpse into their lives at home, we know nothing else about who the bad boys really are. And where does their hunting tradition come from? Such one-dimensionality and lack of personality of all the characters involved result to a dismal, pointless and less suspenseful movie. Even the “truth or dare” game, prior to the hunting climax, is not as gripping and tense as it should have been.

    The actors have decent performance, especially Breslin who obviously puts as much heart as possible to her character. She has the virginal girl-next-door look which makes Veronica an enticingly beautiful sight. However, she does not have bad-ass material yet to be a natural assassin and seductress. She does not look like someone to be intimidated with. She just looks too young and innocent, and as the film demands more of the assassin persona, Breslin seems a misfit for the role. With his experience in Murphy’s TV series “American Horror Story,” Bentley is efficient with his strong likability and ominous looks. Despite having a good chemistry with Breslin, he only has a short screen time in the movie.

    Like most films in the genre where the good girl becomes the last victim, Final Girl is predictable, derivative, messy and devoid of any freshness. It appears vain with its overkill lighting and setting. As it is too focused on style, it forgets to develop personality to its characters or any solid subplot. In effect, it is just another decent but forgettable slasher movie.


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