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The Final Girls (Blu-ray Review)

Final-GirlsAn official selection of the SXSW Film Festival, the Los Angeles Film Festival, screened at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness, and celebrated at SITGES, director Todd Strauss-Schulson’s genre-blending horror comedy THE FINAL GIRLS debuts on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 3 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Taissa Farmiga (“American Horror Story”), Malin Akerman (Couples Retreat), Adam DeVine (“Modern Family”), Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”), Alia Shawkat (“Arrested Development”), Alexander Ludwig (“Vikings”) and Nina Dobrev (“The Vampire Diaries”) star in the unconventional comedy about a young girl (Farmiga) who is mysteriously transported with her friends into the 1980s horror film that starred her late mother (Akerman). Now they must fend off the camp counselors’ raging hormones, battle a deranged machete-wielding killer and find a way to escape the movie and make it back home.  

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Film 

When Max and her friends reluctantly attend an anniversary screening of “Camp Bloodbath”, the infamous ‘80s horror film that starred Max’s late mother, they are mysteriously sucked into the silver screen. They soon realize they are trapped inside the cult classic movie and must team up with the fictional and ill-fated camp counselors, including Max’s mom as the scream queen, to battle the film’s machete-wielding killer. With the body count rising in scene after iconic scene, who will be the final girls left standing and live to escape this film?

Slasher fans looking for the next big thing to broaden the horizons of the horror subgenre, look no further.  The Final Girls is a wonderful tribute that seemingly has done its homework and is able to relish in tropes while also being able to capitalize on what has and hasn’t worked in the genre before.  It also stands tall in being its own damn thing and heavily leaving its mark.  The biggest disappointment with the film is that it had such a small, limited release.  Hopefully this niche item will quickly find its way to cult status.

What works overall best with this film is just how friggin’ sentimental and thoughtful it is when it comes to all its characters.  Even the cartoony ones from the film our protagonists are trapped in.  Its not an over the top vomit fest like something of The Blind Side’s ilk.  No, this one is real and it accurately punches you right in the gut and grabs your emotions.  Taissa Farmiga and Malin Akerman put in some incredible work here, and its their characters’ relationship that really make this film work.  Beyond gore, beyond scares, beyond suspsense, the best thing in here is the story of a girl coping with her mother’s death and trapped with a version of her that really isn’t her and realizing she needs to let go.  Its all within the confines of a silly little meta movie that has modern day people trapped in a 1980s slasher film.  Aside from those two, the other characters also have a heart and soul and you feel really bad anytime someone gets offed or has to follow a trope.

Another strength in the film is that its shot HELLA well.  They really nail the look of a 1980s summer camp-set slasher film to a T.  And its done without trying to look like a VHS tape or grainy film aesthetic.  Instead, its the colors and lighting that give us the vibe.  Going beyond that, the film is rich with beautiful colors.  I won’t spoil the finale, but holy crap does it look quite epic (adding the score to it as well).  The Final Girls isn’t just fun and well written, it looks like a piece of art while doing so.  Its firing on all cylinders.  Looking at Todd Strauss-Schulson’s filmography really doesn’t make me want to go back to anything he’s done, but this film truly has me excited for where he could go in the future.

When I finished this film the first time, I was elated and so ecstatic about what I had just seen.  It has been comforting after talking to other peers of mine who have seen it that they feel the same way.  As a big time slasher fan, I’m through the moon, but genre-aside, as a plain old film fan, this movie also holds out to be outstanding too.  Its very Last Action Hero-like, but much more successful than that film (Which I admit I’m a fan of).  The big strength comes in the film’s sentimentality, emotions and mother-daughter relation.  Go on, try not to get misty eye’d listening to Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” during the film.  I dare ya!  Its one of my favorite films of 2015 and easily one of the best.  Seek it out and watch it as soon as you’re able.  I couldn’t recommend it any higher.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  What a beautiful Blu-ray we have here.  The image is sharp and vibrant, with plenty of details protruding through.  Aside from an obvious CG car crash at the beginning, the other effects come through just fine.  Hair follicles and clothing patterns/texture look like peeking through a window.  Its a squeaky clean and beautiful looking picture.  Just wait til you get to the final battle.  You’ll be in awe.

Depth:  3 dimensional turns look real good, evidenced by the title of the horror film within the film flying right at the screen.  Movements are smooth and background imagery is as clear as focus will allow.  Plenty of good environment spacing for characters and objects.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and rich.  No crushing to be found.  Clothing, surfaces and hair with darker color still shine through with visible detailed textures.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are vibrant and pop very well.  Its definitely amplified when the characters jump through into the 1980s set slasher film.  Greens and purples come out looking lovely.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout.  The 80s setting may add a hint more of warmth.  Facial detail like freckles, lip texture, moles, wrinkles and the like are very visible.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Korean, Mandarin, Thai

Dynamics:  This is an excellent 5.1 mix that thoroughly gives you quite the experience.  Its loose, balanced and pits you right with all the action.  I know I’ve mentioned the finale of this film several times, but the way its shot, the way this Blu-ray looks and now the way it sounds are just a culmination of being fantastic.  If this tracks disappoints…I dunno what to tell you.

Low Frequency Extension:  The sub woofer not only bumps hit tunes, but relishes in boosting thunder, blade swiping & hacking and crashing.

Surround Sound Presentation:  A fun track with plenty to offer in the rear channels.  There are unique sounds and effects that go beyond simple ambiance.  The front speakers pack a punch and accurately deliver motion and placement of characters and action.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp with full clarity.

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Extras 

If you have a BD-Rom drive and pop this in, you can check out director notes.

Audio Commentary

  • Cast & Crew Commentary (Director Todd Strauss-Schulson, Production Designer Katie Byron, Director of Photography Elie Smolkin, and Actors Thomas Middleditch and Taissa Farmiga)
  • Writers Commentary (M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller)

Deleted, Extended And Alternate Scenes with Optional Director’s Commentary (HD, 21:42) 

Pre-Vis Animation (HD, 5:30) – “Car Crash”, “Theater Fire”, “Campsite Entrance”, “Campsite Spin”, “Booby Trap”

Visual Effects Progression Reel (HD, 2:33) – Shows scenes and stuff before they get mastered, color corrected and CG effects as they eventually get finalized.

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Summary 

It’s pretty obvious that I love this film.  A Video OnDemand rental was how I was first able to see it, and now with this Blu-ray I can confirm that it wasn’t just a one time love.  The Blu-ray for it has pristine picture and audio quality to accompany your viewing.  It also has a solid batch of extras to keep one interested and going.  I can’t stop speaking highly about this movie and recommending it to people.  Maybe its not for everyone, but I think film buffs and slasher-horror (Maybe even those that aren’t big on slashers) fans may not love it as much as I do, but can find an appreciation.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “The Final Girls (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Nice. I think I need to see this!