Director: Adam Wingard
Screenwriter: Simon Barrett
Cast: Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, Joe Swanberg, Barbara Crampton, Amy Seimetz, Ti West
Rated R | 91 Minutes
Release Date: August 23, 2013
Coined by Carol J. Clover in her 1992 book Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, the “Final Girl” is a popular trope in horror films that refers to the last woman alive to fight the killer.
Sally Hardesty from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre; Ellen Ripley in Alien; Halloween‘s Laurie Strode; Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy from A Nightmare on Elm Street – all of these are resilient women who are masculinized through “phallic appropriation” by taking up a weapon, like a knife or chainsaw, against their would-be killer.
The “Final Girl” convention forces the male audience to identify with a female character in a male-oriented genre associated with exploitation, voyeurism, and brutality. Think about horror movies – slasher films in particular – how many of them end with a lone male survivor?
If you haven’t read Clover’s book, I would highly recommend it, as it raises some interesting questions about the nature of horror films and their relationship to feminism. It seems that for a horror film to be successful, it’s necessary for the surviving character to be female – even if she is masculinized.
This brings us to Adam Wingard‘s latest film, You’re Next. Written by Simon Barrett, You’re Next isn’t interested in deconstructing the horror genre or mocking its tropes, but rather reinvigorating them. The “Final Girl” is resurrected in the form of Erin (Sharni Vinson), a survivalist who fights a gang of axe-wielding psychopaths in creepy animal masks.
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