Five Faves: Final Girls

Published on October 1st, 2015 in: Feminism, Horror, Listicles, Movies, Top Five Lists |

By Less Lee Moore


The Final Girls (review) is a film about… what else? The hallowed halls of heroines in horror movies (how’s that for alliteration?) have many portraits hung on their walls. Here are a few fave Final Girls that you might not have yet considered, but who are still worthy women.

Jessica, thinking about all of her cool headstone tracings and the fact that she drives an old hearse.

Jessica from Let’s Scare Jessica To Death, 1971

One of the most heartbreaking horror films ever, this one features my favorite example of the “hysterical housewife” trope. Jessica just got out of a mental hospital, so when she starts seeing things, naturally no one believes her. But they should. Zohra Lampert is radiant as Jessica and should have been a huge star.

Sarah is done with your crap. Do you hear me? DONE!

Sarah from The Descent, 2005

Sarah’s transformation from wounded bird to wicked warrior is breathtaking in its scope and empowering in its righteousness. Regardless of which ending you prefer for this truly terrifying movie, there’s no denying that Shauna Macdonald’s performance is unforgettable.

Erin takes a moment for herself. A well-deserved moment.

Erin from You’re Next, 2011

As Erin, Sharni Vinson is the ultimate modern final girl. She’s got spunk, sass, and survival smarts. She destroys the secret plans of the bad guys in the movie and then destroys the other bad guys in the movie. Then she just shoots a man for snoring. OK, she shoots him for being a huge jerkwad, but still. She’s a badass.

Ellen Ripley is done with your crap, too. And she’s done with Carter Burke’s crap, while we’re on the subject.

Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise, starting in 1979

Genre fans might bicker about whether the Aliens movies are sci fi, horror, action, or an unholy commingling of the three, but everyone can agree that Ellen Ripley is one of the greatest Final Girls around: she survives through three movies and a questionable scientific experiment to star in a fourth, plays basketball with Winona Ryder and saves Michael Biehn, an android, a little girl, and a cat along the way. Oh, and she also saves humanity. No biggie.

May the bridges I burn light the way.

The Woman from À l’intérieur, 2007

This might be a controversial pick, but this is Popshifter! We eat controversy for breakfast (and sometimes a light snack between meals). Béatrice Dalle portrays The Woman as terrifyingly skilled yet unhinged and in a neat twist, she is both the killer AND the Final Girl of this film. Sure, she might be deadly and dangerous, but what’s most frightening is how much you can relate to her plight. It’s a masterful performance in a masterpiece of a movie.

This review was originally published on the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness programme blog.

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