Review

Shaun vs. The Final Girls (2015)

final1Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

Starring Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Alia Shawkat and Adam Devine

Three years after her actress mother dies in a car accident, Max (Farmiga) is blackmailed into attending a screening of her mother’s (Akerman) most famous film, a camp slasher called “Camp Bloodbath.”  After a fire breaks out, Max and her friends attempt to escape through the movie screen only to find themselves inside the movie as extra victims for the movie killer, Billy, while Max does what she can to make sure the character playing her mother stays alive until the credits roll.

They won’t be singing Kumbaya… they’ll be screaming Kumba-no!

The film begins three years prior with Max and her mother Amanda, who is now a down on her luck former actress looking for work.  Haunted by her past work as a scream queen in a popular 80s camp slasher film called Camp Bloodbath, Amanda’s been pigeon-holed as “that girl in that horror movie” ever since and that stigma has stunted her acting career.  After a tender moment between the two, they get into a car accident and Max is the only survivor.

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You can always tell who the pretentious movie nerd is.

Back to the present, Max is approached by Duncan, her best friend’s brother and horror movie aficionado, about attending an anniversary showing of Camp Bloodbath along with its’ sequel.  Lightly blackmailing Max by telling her he’ll do her school work for her for the rest of the year, who can resist that offer?  Max’s friends attend the showing with her to show support but a fire breaks out during the film and to escape, they cut through the movie screen to get to the exit door on the other side.  However, despite not carrying a magic ticket, they wind up inside Camp Bloodbath instead.  Pretending to be camp councillors, they hitch a ride to the camp where they run into all the characters they know from the movie, including Max’s mother’s character, Nancy.

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Once again proof that cell phones kill stupid people.

Duncan, the all-knowing horror nerd, figures they are somehow in the movie.  To prove it, they walk into the woods and follow a couple of the film’s minor characters who have a romantic interlude only to wind up watching them get brutally killed by the film’s iconic, Jason-inspired killer, Billy, just like they were meant to.  Duncan reminds us of the “rules” of these types of films and figures they’re safe because the film has to follow its runtime until the end of the movie.  The movie will play out until the end and since they weren’t part of the original film, Billy can’t touch them.  Billy answers that question fairly quickly by using Duncan as target practice for his machete.

final5

Max and her friends work with the film’s characters in order to survive until the end but since they screwed up the film’s continuity, including getting the film’s “final girl” killed off early in the film, so it’s a whole new movie.  Max has a hard time differentiating Nancy from her mother, Amanda and that’s where this movie shows more heart and emotion than you come to find in this type of film.  Here I thought I was watching a funny — often times very funny if I may say so — throwback to the golden age of slasher films and it tosses in several emotional scenes and that plot works its way into a heart-wrenching finale.  *sniff*

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Is he still behind us?

I had a blast with this movie and found it to be much more memorable and entertaining compared to other “retro” titles released in the past year, such as Lost After Dark and especially Muck.  The gimmick of walking through the screen might sound off-putting to some but if you can forgive that small plot point, you can easily enjoy the rest of the movie as it should be.  The film has a wonderful look to it, the filmmakers did a great job on making their 80s movie look the part from the look of the camp to the clothes everyone wears.  There’s plenty of humour, especially from the film’s muscular jock played by Adam DeVine and the sexy, ditzy character played by Angela Trimbur.  The film may not be as bloody as you would expect, but it’s awfully close to how violent they can be and often more visually stylish with the camera work.

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This is how you get a killer’s attention. Or anyone else’s attention for that matter.

There’s very little I didn’t like about the movie.  Maybe the ending was way more over-the-top in comparison to the rest of the movie but that’s just a minor complaint that will go away after I watch the film over and over because it’s definitely a movie I’ll go back to watch again and can easily recommend to fans of 80s slasher films because this is made for them.

TL;DR

Story: 8 – Despite the Looney Tunes plot of people walking into a movie, it’s easily forgivable given what the movie delivers overall.

Blood: 6 – While not overly bloody, there are plenty of stabbings throughout the film.  I’d rather not say what else happens because it’s all done for comedic effect and some are still surprising despite the lack of gore.

Nudity: 0 – Unfortunately, part of the plot involves making sure characters don’t have sex or else the killer will show up.  Maybe we’ll get something in the sequel.

Overall: 8 – One of my favourite of the new films released last year, I think it may go down as a favourite for years to come.

Trivia

-New Line Cinema originally had the script but wanted to take out all the emotional scenes.  It eventually went to Sony where it was made with the promise that the film be made PG-13.  Thankfully there’s a lot they can get away with in PG-13 films now.

-The song the camp councillors play after the first murder is “Michael row your boat ashore”, the same song the councilors are playing in the pre-credit sequence of the original Friday the 13th. They also wear similar yellow shirts.

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