Directed by Tyler Shields, Final Girl is about a girl named Veronica (Abigail Breslin) who has been trained by her mentor, William (Wes Bentley), to be a complete lethal weapon. Thirteen years later, at the age of eighteen, she is tasked by William to kill a group of sadistic senior boys who enjoy hunting and murdering women. Becoming the next victim, Veronica allows herself to be lured into the woods by the killers, but it’s here that the games begin and that the hunters become the hunted.
With Final Girl, the filmmakers are basically taking the Hit-Girl trope to the slasher genre, much like how Hanna used that concept approach to the action thriller genre. It’s an elegant change of pace for the genre, even if the film devolves into a predictable narrative you could easily see coming from a mile away. In a way, it lacks the surprise and shock-value of Adam Wingard’s 2013 horror-revitaliser You’re Next, which, like Final Girl, was made on a small budget yet produced excellent results.
The film starts out unexpectedly, dripping with atmosphere with Wes Bentley testing the young Veronica with mind puzzles just after her parents died before flashing forward to when Veronica became Abigail Breslin and is ready for her first assassination assignment. These opening minutes are the fresh and most exciting part of the film, and while the film occasionally reaches those levels later on, the rest feels like the traditional slasher trademarks being recycled and reused with the fresh dynamic thrown in here and there.
Final Girl has great ideas up its sleeve, but those ideas are never fully realised to their true potential, partially because the direction is completely lifeless and the pacing will prove to be too slow and tiring for even the most average viewer. That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable while it’s there, as the film does offer it’s fair share of entertainment and thrills, particularly once the action heats up in the final act. Abigail Breslin gives a perfectly mercurial performance as the in-control mini-assassin, Wes Bentley is remarkably solid in the few minutes of screen time he receives, and Alexander Ludwig is suitably reptilian and chilly as the main killer, feeling almost like an extension of his baddie role in the first Hunger Games movie.
As one would expect from such a solid cast, the acting was first rate and there are some pleasures to be found in this twist on the slasher genre. Yet, despite boasting great ideas, they never are never fully realised and the film ends up falling short as a result. Also, with its mediocre direction and unimpressive editing, some viewers will probably loose patience as a result, and Final Girl ends up being less impressive than the sum of its parts.
FINAL GIRL / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: TYLER SHIELDS / SCREENPLAY: ADAM PRINCE / STARRING: ABIGAIL BRESLIN, WES BENTLEY, ALEXANDER LUDWIG, LOGAN HUFFMAN / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 7TH