What Makes A Final Girl?

I am a huge fan of the horror genre and what I want to talk about today is pivotal to it, I am going to talk about the trope of ‘the final girl’.

The Slasher genre is an important sub-genre of horror itself. The Slasher genre was at its peak in the 1980’s and the early- to mid-1990’s, it was in this period we got things like Friday The 13th, Halloween, Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The basic premise of these films is the same whichever you look at, evil killer, sometimes supernatural sometimes not, hunting down and killing a group of teens, with one surviving at the end to fight the killer and win. This is ‘the final girl’.

Many different actresses over the years have put their own spin on ‘the final girl’, we’ve had Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Alice (Adrienne King). All of these characters and performances aren’t exactly the same, they would be boring if they were, but they do all share certain qualities and it is these qualities that I want to look at it in further detail.

Not just anyone can be a ‘final girl’, usually to be one you have to be pure (a virgin), have suffered some kind of past trauma, be of good moral character etc. That is a very specific set of characteristics. With these slasher films a very conservative life message was being spread around subtly, sex kills, if you engage in any kind of sexual activity the killer will get you and it isn’t just sex if you behave in anyway in these films that isn’t morally to the rigid standard of the time you would be cut down as well.

Were these films trying to make a point out of the moral purity of society at the time? Was it done with comical intent? We don’t know really is the answer to those questions, so by today’s standard the idea of a ‘final girl’ is quiet an antiquated concept. The stigma on sex isn’t as strong as it was back then, the older generation is more relaxed about these things as they grew up during times like the summer of love and so it isn’t the same.

Can there still be a ‘final girl’ in a 2020 film? Yes of course there can, but it would serve the film better if the more puritanical moral message behind the trope was left in the sands of time.

Written by Luke

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