The Final Girls / Crystal Goddess

I enjoy a so-bad-it's-good campy horror flick every once in awhile. We all know the type - special effects that aren't particularly cutting edge (excuse the pun), less-than-stellar acting, paper thin plot. All things that would send films in other genres to an early grave (I promise, that's the last one), but with a little bit of luck, can propel a horror movie into cult status. Movies like Leprechaun, Toxic Avenger and Sleepaway Camp immediately come to mind. So when I first learned about a movie called The Final Girls, I became intrigued. The poster was a perfect homage to all the great illustrated horror movie posters from the 80's and the trailer leaned heavy on equal parts slasher tropes and self-aware cheese. But I put off watching it, telling myself I would later once I was in the mood.

The bad news is days turned into weeks turned into months turned into years until eventually I had completely forgotten about the movie altogether. The good news is after watching The Nun, it triggered the question, "Where have I seen this girl before?" I Googled "Taissa Farmiga" and was immediately presented with search results that answered my question - The Final Girls. I wasn't going to allow myself time to forget again so I made a point to carve out (I couldn't resist) some time to check it out that night regardless of if I was "in the mood" or not. Spoiler alert: I'm glad I did.

The Final Girls is a bit tough to pin down. I've heard it described as a parody, but director Todd Strauss-Schulson put so much care and attention to detail with clear nods and references to classic slasher movies from the past that it feels more like a tribute than it does a satire. Scary Movie, this is not. One thing is for sure though, The Final Girls was made for fans of 80's slasher flicks. However, if you're not a fan this movie may not be as enjoyable since you'll miss out on all the easter eggs hidden throughout. The premise is really what makes this film a unique gem: A group of present day teens get sucked into an 80's slasher movie and must kill the stalker if they hope to return back home to the 2000's.

Of course before I even pressed play, I had to select the strain for this evening's feature presentation. I opened up my stash and decided on grinding up some Crystal Goddess from Marley Natural. Crystal Goddess is an indica that's crossed between two legendary indica strains - Northern Lights and Blueberry. Buds are mostly a soft forest green color with orange hairs weaved throughout. The fragrance is potent with strong notes of blueberry that punch you in the face. The effects, on the other hand, are much more subdued. After sparking up and polishing off a bowl, I went on with my bedtime ritual without any difficulty. No light headedness. No stumbling. No lack of focus. I just felt… good. Relaxed, but totally lucid.

I hopped into bed excited to finally watch a movie I originally intended to check out a couple years prior. As previously mentioned, The Final Girls stars Taissa Farmiga (The Nun, The Bling Ring), sister of The Conjuring's Vera Farmiga, as Max. Max's claim to fame is that her mother, Amanda (Malin Akerman, Watchmen), was a scream queen in the cult-classic 80's slasher movie Camp Bloodbath. If you're thinking this movie is getting a bit meta, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
The juxtaposition of 2000's millennials interacting with 80's slasher movie teens is hilarious.
After her mother's untimely death, Max is invited by acquaintance and Camp Bloodbath ultimate fanboy, Duncan (Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley), to appear as a guest during a special screening of Camp Bloodbath on the two-year anniversary of her mother's death. After initially passing on the opportunity, she reluctantly agrees and invites along friends Gertie (Alia Shawkat, Arrested Development), Vicki (Nina Dobrev), and her crush, Chris (Alexander Ludwig). All is well until during the middle of the screening a freak accident happens that forces the group to unexpectedly walk through a portal into the ACTUAL movie.

The thing I appreciate about movies like Scream and Cabin in the Woods is that they live in a world were horror movies exist. The characters in these films are aware of horror movie tropes and clich├ęs and can logically navigate around with that knowledge. The Final Girls takes that self-aware concept one step further by placing the group in an actual movie they're familiar with. With the help of Duncan, they know who the victims are. They know who the killer is. They know how the movie ends. Duncan is able to even recite lines of dialogue word-for-word as characters within the movie recite them. But it gets even crazier! Yes, the group is aware they're in Camp Bloodbath, but none of the character's from the movie know they are. They all believe this is reality. The juxtaposition of 2000's millennials interacting with 80's slasher movie teens is hilarious. Take Adam Devine's character, for instance. Adam puts on a clinic as Kurt, the sex-crazed jock stereotype. He's a scene stealer with his over the top sexist and misogynist comments. Not only is it hilarious to see him so invested in the role, but it shines a light on how much we've evolved over the past 30 years in regards to what's socially acceptable behavior and even how male and female characters are portrayed in modern horror movies.

Adding to the meta, the group is able see and hear all of the movie's story beats. From black and white flashbacks and slow-motion sequences, to sound effects and music queues, they are quite literally living inside of an 80's slasher flick. Admittedly, it sounds a bit corny. But I assure you that the execution is clever. For instance, there's a scene when they all can hear the classic Friday the 13th style "ChChCh KahKahKah" sound effect and immediately know that the killer is close by. Little details like that brought a smile to my face. In fact, I smiled a lot during this movie... and not just because I was high. Unfortunately, that "fun factor" could actually be the movie's biggest detriment. The Final Girls simply falls flat on the actual horror. Death scenes are pretty uninspired and the maniac killer never really feels all that threatening. That's not to say The Final Girls is a bad movie. I just wish they pushed the boundaries a bit further with the horror and gore. Overall I still think this is a solid movie with good acting from the present day teens, good "bad" acting from the one-dimensional slasher teens, and better-than-it-has-to-be cinematography. In fact, it's the cinematography and lighting that really shines in this movie. The lighting perfectly captures that 80's horror vibe and the camera does some truly outrageous things to capture the scene.

But enough about me, how about you? Have you watched The Final Girls or tried Crystal Goddess? What are your thoughts? Did you have a similar experience? Please leave a comment and let me know. And of course, don't forget to follow Bloody High on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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