Oh, Vickie… brown panties for a booty call?
Tag Archives: Friday the 13th
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson / Writers: M.A. Fortin & Joshua John Miller / Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Adam DeVine, Alexander Ludwig, Thomas Middleditch, Alisa Shawkat, Nina Dobrev, Angela Trimbur, Tory N. Thompson, Chloe Bridges, Dan B. Norris.
Body Count: 8
Laughter Lines: “Ever since I was a little boy I’ve dreamed of being a final girl!”
There have been a lot of love letter films to the 80s slasher movie in recent years, just last week I had the pleasure of watching Lost After Dark for the first time, and now, a shucks-no (relatively) high-profile release!?
Yes and no. The Final Girls is less a slasher film, more a concept movie about a slasher film. Poster artwork aside, the love letter here is more of a mother/daughter variety than stoned kids going skinny dipping and getting their throats cut. Its closest relatives across the genre would be a lovechild of Camp Daze, Behind the Mask, and Tucker & Dale vs Evil. With a little bit of The Cabin in the Woods, Cut and Midnight Movie thrown in.
Amanda Cartwright is a struggling 40-something actress who can’t live down her part in seminal 1986 summer camp slasher Camp Bloodbath, a proxy for Friday the 13th if ever there was (complete with ki-ki-ki sound effects). After another audition where it was brought up, she is killed in a car accident that only her teenage daughter Max survives.
Three years later, Max is convinced to attend a double-bill screening of Camp Bloodbath and its sequel by her friend Gertie’s franchise-obsessed stepbrother Duncan. When a fire breaks out in the theater and blocks the emergency exit, Max, Gertie, Duncan, Max’s crush Chris, and his self-absorbed ex Vicki escape by slashing open the screen and climbing through… into the film.
Stuck inside Camp Bloodbath affords Max more time with her late mother, or rather, the character Nancy she played in the film. Posing as additional camp counsellors, the group ride along and, initially, think about how they can return home, eventually settling on just hanging around the final girl character until the credits roll, unwisely thinking themselves outside of the killer’s scope.
Naturally, their presence alters the events of the film in a sort of Back to the Future way and Max goes all out to ensure that Nancy goes from bookish victim to the final girl, hoping to save her this time.
Much internet chatter has been made over the fact that the film was passed with a PG-13 rating Stateside: It has minimal bloodletting and no boobs. It emerges that The Final Girls is less trying to be a slasher film than just using one as its catalyst for a story about a grieving girl. And that’s fine, it’s even affectionate and deep when it needs to be.
What this also means is that the apparent homage to the genre becomes a wade through shallow waters of clichés used in a gazillion sketch shows. The ‘love’ professed for slasher movies doesn’t go beyond standard ridicule, even a touch of disdain – but Friday the 13th wasn’t this badly scripted, acted, or obvious in its day, and isn’t viewed as such now, unless its by people who haven’t really researched the genre past its most famous titles. Camp Bloodbath has far more in common with the likes of Twisted Nightmare than any Jason venture.
Complaints aside, there’s still a lot to like even if it means sucking up the piss-taking and viewing the film as a primary comedy, secondary drama, and down at the bottom of the stack, slasher flick. The present-day group’s immersion into the mid-80s setting provides some decent gags, from jock-archetype Kurt’s sexist jokes to dim-witted Tina trying to force an iPhone into a cassette deck. The comedic talents of Adam DeVine, Thomas Middleditch and Angela Trimbur each help to grease up the hard-to-swallow contrivances of the plot.
Best approached as a comedy with a slasher film backdrop: It lacks the insight of Behind the Mask but has the production unities we all wish Camp Daze had.
Blurb-of-interest: Angela Trimbur was in Halloween II (2009).
“And you thought the 80s were dead…”
Director/Writer: Ian Kessner / Writer: Bo Ransdell / Cast: Elise Gatien, Kendra Leigh Timmins, Justin Kelly, Stephan James, Alexander Calvert, Eve Harlow, Lanie McAuley, Jesse Camacho, Robert Patrick, Mark Wiebe, Rick Rosenthal.
Body Count: 13
Laughter Lines: “I don’t wanna be eaten by a cannonball!”
House of the Devil, The Sleeper, and (slightly less notably) Frat House Massacre are all recent films that have gone all out to pass themselves off as sort of ‘lost gems’ of the 1980s. As a possible reaction to the tidal wave of glossy remakes in the 2000s, more than a few people were yearning for the simpler days of horror: No cellphones, big hair, bad fashion, straight-forward plotting.
In the latest back-to-basics slasher film, eight high-schoolers skip out on a dance, steal a schoolbus, and set off to the forest cabin owned by good girl Adrienne’s dad. Sucks to be them when the bus runs out of gas on a lonely road and the nearest house is inhabited by the last surviving member of a cannibalistic family.
After that, expeditions to look for gasoline, food, candles etc, are scuppered by the hungry loon, who succeeds in taking them out one by one by pick-axe, pitchfork, and various other deadly implements.
Initially, Lost After Dark tries a little too hard to pass itself off as a product of 1984, with selected music, garments, cars, a Rubik’s Cube, and references to of-the-time TV shows and stuff coming from everywhere. Not to mention the characters are each named after directors and starlets from the creme of the 70s and 80s teen horror wagon. This becomes a little try-hard and distracting, but is soon forgotten once the action starts and, convincingly retro or not, offers up a few genuinely tense scenes – the best of which involving one character stuck in the basement with the killer.
A ‘missing reel’ gag also feels out of place, something more suited to a cheapo 70s grindhouse film than a mid-80s B-movie, although it later reveals itself to be nothing more than a cunning plot device.
Although eyebrow shaping, body types, tiny nuances of movement and speech can never be rewound sufficiently enough to totally fool the viewer, the bigger picture is good enough on its own, with elements of Hell Night and even House of Death at play, as well as the intended Camp Crystal Lake elements – a full moon, creepy woods, dark outbuildings.
Lost After Dark provides a sandbox of slasher simplicity to play in, and makes some good shapes out of the clichés it has at hand, improving as it goes once we’re down to the one girl remaining (and the best choice for final girl duties). What I didn’t like was the back-filling exposition on behalf of Rick Rosenthal’s sheriff, once all the action was over. This would’ve worked better as a campfire tale or the olde stop-and-ask-directions-from-local exchange. A minor complaint.
There aren’t any complex plot twists, save for a little bit of active misdirection as to who will survive; It plays out like it could have come from the golden age of the genre, although any number of internet cry babies are quick to point out the lack of nudity, while singing from the rooftops how well acquainted they are with the genre, seemingly forgetting that boobs really weren’t in every 80s slasher film to begin with. Seems as though every horror fan thinks they can do better, yet cannibalizes the attempts of fellow horror fans who actually go and do it! Rant over.
With still little to no news on the upcoming Friday the 13th film/TV series/reality show/Real Housewives of Crystal Lake nonsense, I stumbled upon this amazing looking project over at Kickstarter…
If that doesn’t tick just about every frickin’ box for what I want out of the next Jason film… Full moon, campfire, skinny dipping, “did you hear something”-style dialogue. Step back, producer folk, you almost recaptured bits of that in 2009, but if it can be rendered in a game, y’all can do it on film!
The downside is that Pac Man is about my limit when it comes to ‘gaming’, so this will likely go right over my head. Sad times.