Final Girl (2015) **1/2
D: Tyler Shields
C: Abigail Breslin, Alexander Ludwig, Wes Bentley, Cameron Bright, Logan Huffman, Reece Thompson, Emma Paetz, Gracyn Shinyei, Francesca Eastwood, Desiree Zurowski
Plot Synopsis: Veronica, the new girl in town, is lured into the woods by a group of senior boys looking to make her a victim. But the boys don't know that Veronica's been trained to handle herself in surprisingly lethal ways.
Review: If I was to judge Final Girl strictly on how well it executed its premise, a premise involving a trained assassin who goes undercover to take down a group of spoiled rich kids who kill teenage girls for fun, then it is indeed a failure. Yet, like Abigail Breslin's assassin character, there's more then meets the eye.
In it, we watch as Breslin's character trains to be an assassin under the guidance of Wes Bentley's character. These scenes create a bond between Breslin & Bentley's characters that feels authentic. Or, in another scene that takes place in a diner, we watch as Breslin's character shares a milkshake with a fellow patron played by Emma Paetz. In this scene, Paetz's character talks to Breslin's about feeling locked down to living a certain life, because of certain choices. This scene evokes feelings of regret & sadness.
Final Girl is able to take a myriad of emotions and bring them to the screen in a tangible way. There's another scene, for instance, in which Alexander Ludwig's character describes what he's most ashamed of. It's an unexpected confessional moment that develops his character beyond something more then a thrill seeking murderer and gives the scenario an extra layer of context.
Now, when it comes to the business of our heroine dishing out violent justice, the fight sequences are a combination of trying to deliver revenge fantasy while still continuing on with the character arcs that have been developed. During these scenes, Abigail Breslin is outfitted in striking red dress, while the guys are outfitted in sleek, stylish suits meant to channel a modern day Rat Pack aesthetic. However, when it comes to these fight sequences, it's pretty obvious that Breslin had a stunt double. Something that's bound to disappoint people.
While Final Girl does give us fight sequences, it isn't concerned so much with presenting us an ass kicking heroine engaged in butt kicking action, but in figuring out what makes its characters tick. Quite frankly, with this type premise, most people will want something more straight forward along the lines of Mortal Kombat or I Spit on Your Grave versus something that's more nuanced. As a result, Final Girl is guilty of not giving people what they expected and, naturally, they're going to be ticked off.
However, to outright dismiss Final Girl is a disservice. If you can appreciate a film that has something to say and tries to thoughtfully bring that to the screen, there's rewards to be found. If you know what I'm talking about, there's four star elements in service of a two star premise. [R] 90 minutes.
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