FINAL GIRL (REVIEW)
Dir. Tyler Shields
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Controversial photographer Tyler Shields makes his directorial debut with violent thriller FINAL GIRL. Following the development of assassin in training (Abigail Breslin) with her tutor (Wes Bentley) and their next target; a group of “hunters” who prey on young girls, lead them to a forest, hunt them down and kill them. When they pick up this blonde, their chips are counted as the hunt soon turns on them. This is KICK-ASS meets LEON with the tutor/trainee relationship taking centre stage and pay-off being this next mission.
FINAL GIRL has all of the material to make a brilliant reverse slasher and its lead delivers on her position as the alpha female against the group of twisted hunters who believe the world is beneath them. The issue lies in the fact that there just isn’t enough. By the time the film has set up its back story you find yourself in the thick of the action as “Veronica” takes out the murderers one after the other in a drug induced illusion of the victim’s inner fears.
While this technique is effective from a visual standpoint, it feels as though there’s no build up or tension to the next kill making this feel as stone cold as it’s killer trudging through a photo album of decent kills without any development between the shots. With a running time of only 80 minutes, the events of the night are over fairly quickly once the action begins leaving a feeling of wanting more and without satisfaction.
Taking the weak looking lead to slaughter the outnumbered is portrayed with a refreshing take that makes this feel more KICK-ASS than I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and in the process makes Hit Girl look like a cartoon, which is great to see from a female lead. Breslin owns the screen with her innocence yet despite her training, her takedowns feel believable in the sense that she comes out battered and bruised too. There’s no over the top gore here despite Tyler’s previous camera work but FINAL GIRL manages to bring a level of darkness that turns the slasher film on its head.
To Shields credit, his experience as a talented photographer is heavily on show here with some fantastic shots throughout and none more cooler than the introduction of the four individuals whose fate is soon sealed. Many of the film’s key scenes could be a still as the camera is placed to take in the beauty of what is on screen no matter how dark the events rollercoaster into.
As a directorial debut, Shield has made an impressive launch onto the scene but there is a lot of learning required to make the transition from photographer to a great film maker. Where there are key shots to be had, the difference is in how these link together and while FINAL GIRL holds a simple story, it’s stapling together from scene to scene doesn’t quite satisfy the entertainment factor or provide the tension required in a cat and mouse thriller such as this. If one thing is for sure, FINAL GIRL has certainly left me wanting more.