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Final Girl
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Endangered Species"
1 stars

There are two movies with virtually the same title, taken from the term for the virginal lass in a slasher movie who survives to do battle with Jason or Freddy or whoever in the grand finale. "The Final Girls" is a pretty amusing spoof of the genre that was just given a slot in the Midnight Madness portion of next month's Toronto International Film Festival before its official release in October. "Final Girl," on the other hand, is a dreadful and decidedly unpleasant item dribbling into a few theaters this weekend that has a similar title but could not be more different in every other possible way, especially in terms of quality.

Set in a small town that still seems obsessed with all things Fifties--the local diner is like Ed Debevic's sans the irony--the film concerns a group of local teenage boys whose chief hobby is romance young women, only to take them out in the woods in order to hunt them down and kill them. For their latest target, they have selected the sweet, shy and vulnerable Veronica (Abigail Breslin) and have taken her out in order to take her out. What they don't realize, but which we already know, is that Veronica not only knows what is in store but has been receiving training from a mysterious man (Wes Bentley) since losing her parents at the age of 5 to make her into a virtually indestructible killing machine. Before long, the hunters become the hunted as Veronica begins picking them off one by one, usually in the grisliest manner possible.

I am usually a fan on action spectaculars featuring young women kicking all sorts of ass--I am the one, after all, who put "Lucy" on his Top 10 list last year--but "Final Girl" could not have left me colder if the screening had been held in a walk-in freezer. Even after making the usual allowances for logical deficiencies, the screenplay by Adam Prince makes absolutely no sense whatsoever--we never get a clear idea of the relationship between Breslin and her benefactor, why she would willingly go out into the woods with a group of homicidal guys even with her superior skills or what the Fifties look is supposed to mean, other than the fact that Prince and/or director Tyler Shields are apparently trying to ape the works of David Lynch. The movie is relatively short but Shields is still unable to keep it from dragging and when he begins to add hallucinogenic imagery into the mix in order to spice things up, viewers are more likely to be annoyed than amused.

As the unexpectedly fatale femme, Abigail Breslin, a million miles removed from her Oscar-nominated turn in "Little Miss Sunshine," does everything that she can to sell this nonsense and to the very meager degree that it does succeed, it is because of her but after a while, she seems as bored on the screen as we are in the audience. Trust me--wait until October for "The Final Girls" and let "Final Girl" disappear in the manner that it so richly deserves.

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originally posted: 08/14/15 01:04:54
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  14-Aug-2015 (R)
  DVD: 06-Oct-2015

  31-Aug-2015 (15)


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