After young Veronica is left orphaned when her parents pass away in a tragic accident she is recruited by a secret society that trains her to anticipate the unexpected. Investing her entire adolescence into learning survival there comes a day when she is ready. A group of teenaged boys who abduct specifically blonde girls for prey have set their sights on Veronica. Will her training allow her to be the hunted or the hunter?
Directed by: Tyler Shields
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Wes Bentley, Morgan Huffman, Cameron Bright, Alexander Ludwig, Reece Thompson
Final Girl is one of those gitchy, trendy catch phrases that were conceived somewhere in an internet chat room referring to the last one standing often in the serial killer genre in horror films. While I can barely keep up with the current rage in texting and technology, suffice to say I have little to no room for new age jargon when pertaining to horror. Make no mistake about it there is nothing trendy or pretentious when it comes to Tyler Shields’s directional debut in Final Girl.
Many of the initial scenes are shot with a dark, brooding sense of elusiveness. One cannot deny the degree of imaginative sculpting Shields makes in a cinematography sense. Through riddles in dialogue and esthetic innuendo, this director beckons the imagination rather than bludgeons the senses silly. I admire his ability to invest the viewer’s cerebral cortex and much of the hellacious creepiness we see before us is a matter of subconscious filling in the blanks. A great deal of the suspense is conceived from what we do not see. Final Girl is a movie that can easily be viewed time and again and something different would arise each time.
The character of Veronica (played by Abigail Breslin) is equal parts enigmatic and infectious. We know there is something special about her and yet her vulnerability tends to make her unhampered with flaws and all the more human. We’re uncertain if she’ll excel in her survival studies and begin to question if she’ll make it much to the similar disdain of her mentor, William (Wes Bentley). We know not a great deal of William’s character, what motivates him or who he represents. I appreciate the degree of aloof structure in this case. The viewing audience is spared a great deal of needless exposition as it’s proven we can just as easily fill in the blanks for ourselves for later reference.
The dynamic of the relationship between protégé and mentor is complex and inspires a great deal of wonderment for the audience. It doesn’t take long to realize a sexual tension, albeit as taboo as it may seem on the surface. One cannot help but ponder if their intimate relationship will ever be requited or if it will simply be business as usual. If William seems somewhat vaguely familiar you may recognize him from the Oscar winning American Beauty where he played Ricky Fitts, the pot smoking dealer next door neighbor to Kevin Spacey.
There is almost a trippy, dreamy or surreal feel to Final Girl. Shields paints an illustrious back drop of a sub-culture that you’d swear takes place in the late nineteen fifties. Certainly a dozen of hints and factors elude to such. From the fashions, pop culture, hair styles, automobiles, slang, home décor, social etiquette along with regular morals and family values, the setting seems to scream something right out of the Happy Days era. Yet Final Girl is something that could just as easily take place in everyday contemporary society regardless of the aforementioned details. Shields presents a locale that exists only in spite of itself that is reminiscent of a David Lynch expose. It challenges the imagination further and film aficionados with a taste for the obscure with squirm in their seats with delight.
Some of the most notable cinematography and special effects work are found within the predators’ scenes. As each hunts their prey within the confines of the desolate forest the very real terror begins. To fully conceive this point one must simply watch the film. The visuals within these sequences are highly imaginative, innovative and shocking. Just when you think you have everything figured out and have dismissed the production as one of predictability, something most obscure rears its ugly head and the viewership is rendered awestruck once again.
Fans of revenge flicks, something most certainly out of the ordinary or like their action on the rough and rugged side will definitely rejoice in Final Girl.
-Four out of five tombstones
A special thanks to Anne-Lise Kontz and Touchwood PR