A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Final Girls is a comical spoof of horror movies, with modern characters "stuck" inside a slasher movie from the 1980s. Expect a few gory and/or shocking slasher-movie moments, but compared to "pure" slasher movies, it's fairly mild. Characters also fight with machetes, and there are some explosions and a fire. Sexual innuendo is strong, but it's usually intended to be funny. A Playboy magazine is shown, and characters are definitely talking and thinking about sex (including discussion of who is and isn't a virgin). Language isn't especially frequent but does include uses of "s--t" and "bitch." Characters take the drug Adderall, and there's some cigarette smoking and drinking (beer and vodka). The movie is clever and funny, as well as surprisingly touching, as the main character learns to let go of a lost loved one.
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What's the story?
As a teen, Max (Taissa Farmiga) loses her mother -- an actress in "B" movies (Malin Akerman) -- in a car accident. Three years later, Max is invited to attend a screening of her mother's most famous movie, the slasher film Camp Blood Bath. When a fire erupts in the theater, Max and four friends escape by cutting a hole in the screen and stepping through. Strangely, they wake up inside the movie itself, and, much to her shock and joy, Max is able to interact with her mother's fictional character, Nancy. Unfortunately, even though they know what's going to happen in the movie, the rules keep changing, and they must avoid fictional killer Bill Murphy ... or they could die in real life.
Is it any good?
The horror meta-movie has been done before (Scream), but this one edges past mere cleverness with a strangely touching emotional core: What would you do if you met a shadow of your lost mother? THE FINAL GIRLS starts with a genuine affection for the slasher genre, including a fake trailer for Camp Blood Bath that recalls the days of VHS video rentals. One of the characters is an uber-fan of the genre, effectively conveying the adoration that horror hounds have for the rules (and cliches) of their chosen genre.
Some of the movie-within-a-movie characters are silly, but the likable "real life" characters make up for it; naïve comments are trumped by more understanding ones. Director Todd Strauss-Schulson (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas) has fun staging and re-imagining horror movie moments, including flashbacks (with raining black-and-white goop washing away the color) and onscreen titles. Yet none of it is condescending. It stays true to the people who love movies and who love life as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Final Girls' violence. How much gore is necessary to the story? How does this movie compare to "regular" horror movies? Does the violence impact you differently because of the movie's tone?
Is the movie scary? Where does the line between horror and comedy start and stop?
Some of the women in the movie seem to have a hard time knowing when it is and isn't OK to have sex. What do you think of the way the movie deals with the topic of sex?
What's the appeal of old 1980s horror/slasher movies? Why do people enjoy them?
- In theaters: October 9, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: November 3, 2015
- Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Alexander Ludwig
- Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
- Studios: Vertical Entertainment, Stage 6 Films
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: horror violence, some crude and sexual material, language and drug use
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
For kids who love humor and horror
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