Saturday, March 26, 2016
Final Girl (live action movie), via Netflix
I considered buying this one when I spotted it at Walmart. I'm glad I resisted, and not just because it popped up on Netflix a short while later.
The movie starts off by introducing William and Veronica. William took Veronica in when she was an orphaned child. Supposedly he spent the next 12 years training her to be an assassin, except older teen (or young 20s?) Veronica is so bad at fighting and killing people that it seems more likely that she and William twiddled their thumbs for 12 years. William completes Veronica's training by having her unsuccessfully choke several people, including himself, by abandoning her in the woods so that she has to walk eight miles to get back to his car, and by pumping her full of drugs so that she can realize what her greatest fear is. Then comes her true test: killing a group of sociopathic teenage boys who have been taking blonde girls into the woods, hunting them, and killing them.
This movie was a mess. The main thing it had going for it was that it was pretty. Also, the actors did a decent job, considering what they had to work with. Which was a lot of awkward nothing.
First off, the dialogue was awful. It felt very studied and unnatural. It was especially noticeable whenever Wes Bentley (William) spoke – I could practically see him reading off of a script – but there were plenty of other moments that could have used work. For example, when one of the teenage killers succumbed to the drugs Veronica had given him, he kept screaming “You Babylonian whore!” I had no idea why a teenage boy would scream that at visions of his worst nightmare.
Second, there were so many details that went absolutely nowhere. William mentioned that his wife and child had been killed, which initially made me think that he was training Veronica to kill their killer, except that the teens he sent her after were too young to have been involved in their deaths. As a child, Veronica demonstrated both a photographic memory and an ability to instantly find the correct path through a maze she'd only just been shown. Neither of these abilities were ever mentioned again, and if William trained her to use those abilities against her targets, it wasn't shown.
Third, there were a lot of holes. How did William become the guardian of an orphaned child? What did they do during those 12 years before William finally began seriously training her? How did Veronica bother trying to choke one of the teenage killers when she had failed to successfully choke anyone so many times before? And finally, there was that stupid bit where one of the boys mentioned that they mixed up their killing techniques to “throw off the authorities.” I'm sorry, but that must mean the authorities are morons. All the killings happen in the woods near a small town. All the victims are pretty blonde girls who live in that town. Jameson (one of the teenage killers) had publicly demonstrated an interest in all of those girls. Mixing up their killing techniques should have meant nothing in the face of all the other details that were exactly the same from one killing to the next.
Here's Netflix's description of this movie: “A group of sociopaths that's been killing girls in the woods for sport sets its sights on a teen who turns out to be a trained assassin.” This premise sounds kind of awesome, but it's misleading. William's training didn't seem to start until 12 years after he took Veronica in, and his training methods were crap and seemed more focused on messing with Veronica's head than anything. I'm almost certain that the first teenage boy Veronica managed to kill in the woods was her first kill, period, and the only reason she managed to kill any of them was because she drugged them (not a spoiler – this was revealed before the boys made it clear they planned to hunt her down and kill her).
There wasn't even much of a sense of triumph in the end. Most of the boys were so caught up in their drug-fueled nightmares that they weren't even aware of who was trying to kill them. It could have felt like a revenge flick, except that neither Veronica nor William had any personal stakes in the boys being killed and, aside from one scene near the end, there was very little focus on the boys' victims and their need for vengeance.
I can't recommend this movie and, again, I'm glad I didn't buy it. As a horror/thriller, it wasn't particularly scary or intense. If I worried for Veronica, it was only because I knew she wasn't the awesome assassin the movie tried to present her as being. Instead, she was just an emotionally damaged girl who was fixated on William, a man who should never have been allowed to raise her in the first place. Speaking of which, I should probably mention that this movie contained two characters with unhealthy incestuous/semi-incestuous fixations: Veronica, who loved William, her emotionally distant father-figure, and one of the teenage killers, who apparently fantasized about his mother.