Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Final Girls

Go To
The Final Girls is a 2015 horror dramedy which is an Affectionate Parody of the Slasher Movie genre. The story is about a girl named Max (Taissa Farmiga) whose mother was an actress whose career has been stalled because she starred in a slasher film called Camp Bloodbath.

Three years after her mother dies in a car accident, Max is invited to a screening of Camp Bloodbath where she and her group of friends get sucked into the movie. They must now figure out how to survive before getting killed one by one.

Also stars Malin Åkerman, Alia Shawkat, Adam Devine, Nina Dobrev, Alexander Ludwig, Thomas Middleditch and Chloe Bridges.

Surprisingly charming and heartfelt, this one is a gentler deconstruction of slasher movies.

It is unrelated to the Riley Sager novel.

The movie has the following tropes:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: At the end of the film. Max becomes the movie's Final Girl. This immediately makes her previously mortal injury Only a Flesh Wound and gives her greatly improved fighting skills, which enables her to take down Billy.
  • All Just a Dream: Max briefly wonders whether the movie was a dream but Duncan shows her his machete wound proving the events were real. But then it's revealed that they're in another movie so it might still be a dream.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Kurt hits on literally every woman he sees, but briefly mentions that he thinks gay men have a cool lifestyle.
  • Arrows on Fire: Arrows with burning tampons on them are used against Billy when he's attacking the lodge. Unfortunately, they barely slow him down.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Gertie makes a great show of how she dislikes her stepbrother Duncan, but she is clearly distressed when he gets machete'd, and then run over. At the end of the movie she even admits that she loves him.
  • Bear Trap: The main characters set one in an attempt to trap Billy. Instead of him, it's Tina who falls on it.
  • Beneath the Mask: Vicky from the real world starts out as a typical unpleasant bitchy character, but it is later revealed that she's been acting like that because she misses the friendship that she used to have with Max before her mother's death.
  • Big Bad: Billy Murphy, the masked killer of both Camp Bloodbath and this movie. He's also the main villain of the former's sequel, Camp Bloodbath 2: Cruel Summer.
  • The Black Dude Dies First: In the Camp Bloodbath movie, Billy's first onscreen victim is a black hiker. Averted with Blake.
  • Bullet Time: The film goes into slow motion when Max dodges a knife thrown by Billy.
  • Casting Gag: Alexander Ludwig also starred in the movie Final Girl, where he played the antagonist.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Max's mom played a character named Nancy in Camp Bloodbath, whom she is forced to interact with. It's kinda weird.
  • Closed Circle: As Max and her friends try desperately to escape Camp Blue Finch, they find themselves running away in one direction and finding themselves returning from the opposite direction at least three times, greeted by the same lines from the same characters each time.
  • The Comically Serious: Billy is treated dead seriously and never directly provides humor...but the heroes driving the story off the rails results in humor coming from him being taken off guard by things happening.
  • Cue the Sun: The instant Billy's head comes off the sky changes from dark and stormy to clear and bright, as the dawn breaks and the credits start to roll over the tree line.
  • Darkest Hour: The plan to kill Billy backfires spectacularly, resulting in the deaths of Tina, Blake, Gertie and Vicky, Chris is stabbed by Billy and Nancy is taken to his cabin across the lake, leading to Max getting stabbed during the rescue attempt.
  • Deadly Prank: This is what created Billy in-universe.
  • Death By Genre Savvy: Subverted with Duncan, who believes Billy will just leave them alone because they're not part of the movie. He gets a machete to the torso to prove him wrong. Of course, he turns out to have survived this and a run-in with a car later on in the movie.
  • The Ditz: Tina. All she has in mind is sex and having fun.
  • Downer Ending: The protagonists manage to defeat Billy, only to learn that they are now trapped in the Camp Bloodbath series and must deal with an even angrier Billy with two machetes. At least Duncan is excited.
  • Dramatic Irony: There's a good sense that Amanda's financial problems, as well as lack of success as an actress, is due to her treatment of her past as a horror icon as an Old Shame. She complains about being only recognized as a Scream Queen but it's the only thing she's done of any note and they DO recognize her. The movie also makes it clear that Camp Bloodbath, as a Captain Ersatz for Friday the 13th, has an active and vocal fandom that wants to see her.
  • Empathic Environment: Inside Camp Bloodbath the weather changes as the events unfold, to reflect the atmosphere. It begins with a sunny backdrop for the first few deaths, becomes a rain and thunderstorm during the Darkest Hour, and finally the clouds break, revealing the sunrise when Max finally kills Billy.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Averted in the opening crash scene. Played straight within the Camp Bloodbath movie world when Paula's car explodes in a gigantic fireball after crashing into a totem pole.
  • Exploiting the Fourth Wall: Max gets Nancy to perform the Flashback she narrated earlier over again, to force them out of their current scene and escape Billy.
  • Expy: Billy is this for Jason Voorhees; he's a masked, hulking killer who became one as a result of the actions of counselors at a summer camp, and he wields a machete.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Nancy calmly accepts her death and smiles as she walks off to it knowing it will turn Max into the Final Girl.
  • Fan Disservice: Malin Åkerman stripping and dancing sexy? Hot! Her crying in terror and anguish the whole time, knowing her violent death is mere seconds away? Not so much.
  • Final Girl:
    • Paula is this in Camp Bloodbath. But because our protagonists interfere with the plot, she dies while trying to bail out. Later, Nancy and Max both assume the role. Realizing there can only be a Final Girl, Nancy sacrifices herself so Max becomes the final girl of Camp Bloodbath and also the whole movie.
    • Subverted in that Chris also survives and the whole group of friends makes it out alive towards the end.
    • Then subverted again with the reveal that instead of having returned to the real world, they ended up in the even gorier sequel, so all bets are off again.
  • Flashback: Used in Camp Bloodbath to explain Billy's backstory. Later, the characters exploit it by having Nancy start it again to avoid Billy killing them.
  • Flashback Effects: Whenever Camp Bloodbath enters a Flashback, everything turns black and white. Characters also see everything around them melting down as they transition into it.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Attentive viewers can read the filmography on the back of Amanda's headshot, showing a credit for "The Westphals", a reference to the ending of the hospital drama St. Elsewhere, wherein it was revealed the entire series had been a dream of a boy named Tommy Westphall. Interestingly, this is a near-inversion, since the characters wake up in the hospital, only to find they're still in a movie.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Nancy is stabbed by Billy, the camera cuts to a wide shot the second before it happens.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: From the time they get to the movie world, Max and co. find themselves in a 92-minute loop until they go with the minibus of counselors to Camp Blue Finch.
  • Here We Go Again!: The protagonists manage to make it out of the film... and end up in the sequel.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Vicky and Gertie have themselves blown up in order to stop Billy. Later, this is followed by Nancy, who has herself killed by Billy, so that Max can be the Final Girl who kills him and survives.
  • Hidden Depths: Nancy's role in Camp Bloodbath is to be the shy girl who gets killed because she tries to have sex. When Max talks to her, she finds out that the character has much more going for her.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Billy unknowingly sets up his own death by killing Nancy, causing Max to become the new Final Girl and stripping him of his Implacable Man status.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Chris and Max. Lampshaded by Max when Gertie is teasing her about Chris' obvious interest in her.
    Max: He's like a giant. Okay, so imagine us together; I'd need stilts to kiss him.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Max's mom Amanda has been typecast as a scream queen and to her disappointment has had bad luck appearing in anything other than B-grade schlock ever since Camp Bloodbath. She still seems to have a pretty happy life otherwise though.
  • Implacable Man: Billy, who just wades through everything he's hit with despite being a normal person who doesn't gain any power through supernatural means. He only becomes vulnerable once Max becomes the Final Girl, allowing her to hurt and ultimately kill him.
  • Informed Judaism: It's mentioned for a passing gag that Max is Jewish.
  • Invisible Parents: Well, parent — Max is struggling to come to terms with the death of her mom, but her dad flat-out isn't mentioned at all.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Vicky, who becomes nicer as the movie progresses.
  • Kensington Gore: Duncan theorizes that the movie characters' blood will be this and helps himself to a taste of one of Billy's victims. It's not corn syrup. He proceeds to gag.
  • Kill It with Fire: The cast tries to kill Billy with a trap that sets him on fire. It doesn't work, and the remaining cast end up being chased by a killer wreathed in flames.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Unlike the comically exaggerated cannon fodder characters from Camp Bloodbath, its villain, Billy Murphy, is much like Jason Voorhees (even in his backstory) and he is not Played for Laughs. He is very dangerous and implacable and impossible to kill until Max becomes the Final Girl.
  • Leitmotif: "Bette Davis Eyes" for Amanda and Max. It's playing on the radio right before the car crash that kills Amanda and she even reminds Max that it was "[their] song" when Max was little. It starts playing again as Nancy, the character played by Amanda in Camp Bloodbath, sacrifices herself so that Max can become the Final Girl and escape.
  • Lighter and Softer: In contrast to the slasher movies that the film parodies, as there is no onscreen nudity and very little blood. Like some other aspects of the movie, this is a pretty obvious take on how much pop culture tastes have changed since the huge wave of slasher flicks in the 80s.
  • Machete Mayhem: Billy Murphy's weapon of choice. When he loses the machete, he starts using a regular knife.
  • Man on Fire: Billy becomes one after being shot with the Arrows on Fire and doused in gasoline. It barely slows him down and he chases the surviving characters into the woods while still on fire.
  • Meaningful Echo: "I'm just the shy girl with the clipboard and guitar."
  • Medium Awareness: The real world characters naturally know they're in a slasher flick and actively interact with things like the credits or the flashbacks. Invoking the Final Girl trope is a major plot point.
  • Meta Guy: Duncan. His obsession with giving exposition gets him killed. Twice.
  • Monster Threat Expiration: Invoked: Billy is impossible to kill and an Implacable Man, he only becomes vulnerable once someone becomes the Final Girl, like most slasher villains.
  • Neck Lift: In Camp Bloodbath, Billy is shown doing this to Mimi, the girl who was going to have sex with the hiker.
  • Neck Snap: In Camp Bloodbath, Billy kills the hiker by twisting his neck around.
  • Ninja Prop: Everything from flashbacks to title cards to slow-motion to the ending of the film physically affect the protagonists.
  • Not Quite Dead: After impaling Billy on a door that's covered in antlers, the characters think that everything's over. Of course, when one of them goes to investigate his body, he turns out to be still alive and kills that character.
  • Off with His Head!: Billy's fate at the hands of Max, who decapitates him with his own machete.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Her role as Nancy in Camp Bloodbath was this for Amanda Cartwright, Max's mom, as she had a hard time getting new acting gigs because it's all that she is remembered for.
  • Reference Overdosed: And how. This is a film by slasher fans, for slasher fans. As such, it is dense with shout outs and homages alike, many of which could easily go over the average viewer's head.
    • The Tomboyish Name of the lead character and eponymous 'final girl' Max is a nod to this trope, which is fairly common in the slasher sub-genre (i.e. Jess in Black Christmas (1974), Jamie in Halloween, Chris in Friday the 13th Part III.)
    • Billy Murphy is an amalgamation of three different slasher villains. The appearance and modus operandi of Jason Voorhees, the backstory of Cropsey from The Burning, and the name of Billy from Black Christmas (1974); a film which many consider to be the progenitor of the slasher sub-genre.
    • The circumstances of Amanda Cartwright's death are similar to those of Ginny's mother in Happy Birthday to Me.
    • Nancy's line about sex while stoned on a waterbed is a reference to an infamous bit of dialogue from the cult classic Pieces.
    • The Camp Bloodbath opening title sequence is a nod to the iconic credits to The Thing (1982).
    • The minivan is lifted from Friday the 13th Part III.
    • Many of the characters are either named after or directly modeled on characters from classic slasher films.
  • Refugee from TV Land: Nancy wants to become this once she realizes that she's a fictional character meant to die and never grow up to do important things.
  • Serial Killer Baiting: One of the rules in the movie is that the serial killer always shows up right when someone's about to have sex. Even a woman taking her top off is enough. So Max set a trap, and the slutty party girl starts dancing to lure him in.
  • Sequel Hook: Parodied. Max defeats Billy and the movie is over. She then wakes up in a hospital with all her friends only to find out she is in the sequel!
  • Sex Signals Death: Enforced. Even attempting to have sex or taking off one's top is enough to summon Billy.
  • Someone Has to Die: For the Final Girl to exist, Nancy or Max has to die at the end. Nancy willingly draws out Billy to have him kill her, which in turn gives Max the power to kill Billy.
  • Spiritual Successor: The film is essentially Last Action Hero, only with slasher movies instead of action flicks.
  • Summer Campy: Camp Bloodbath is a typical slasher movie set in a summer camp; characters are camp counselors who are too horny for their own good, and get killed if they wander off into the surrounding woods.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: While Max is rescuing Nancy from Billy's cabin, Nancy sees him briefly behind her due to a lightning flash. He is gone when Max turns around, but appears again seconds later to attack her.
  • Stylistic Suck: Camp Bloodbath is written about as well as any other 80s slasher movie, with corny writing and 30-year-olds playing teenagers. Lampshaded by Max and her friends.
  • Technical Virgin: Vicki tries to argue that she's still eligible to be Final Girl despite whatever it was she did with Chris (he's too polite to say), but the other characters aren't buying it.
  • Trapped in TV Land: Max and her friends get magically sucked inside one of her mom's films. It's also a horror film, so not only is there the ordinary fight to get back but their lives are at serious risk.
  • Virgin Power: Essentially Virgin Power: The Movie. Only virgins can be the Final Girl, and in this movie, the Final Girl has slayer-like powers.
  • Wham Shot: As Max thinks her and Chris have escaped, they find themselves stood in front of the rating banner, and Max wakes up in a hospital straight after a projector is heard starting... since they only got through the first film...
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After their predicament starts, there's no concern for what happened to everyone else in the theatre. They're probably all dead, though.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: Tina performs a striptease (set to Warrant's "Cherry Pie" no less) to lure Billy into the Death Trap they've set for him.