tek's rating: ½

Final Girl (R)
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So... I'm listing this under "thrillers," but I think a more apt genre (if it existed) would be "anti-slasher," which I think is a pretty cool concept. I mean, it's not an entirely unique idea; it's basically the same concept as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but with serial killers instead of vampires. Anyway, it begins with a young girl named Veronica talking with a man named William, after her parents had died. The fact of their death doesn't seem to faze her at all; she seems perfectly calm or even unemotional about everything... except the possibility of getting ice cream. So I kind of immediately thought she could be a sociopath, but not necessarily a bad person. However, William plans to train her to become a vigilante who kills killers. (I got the impression he works for some sort of organization that trains people like Veronica for this purpose, but we never really see or learn anything about such an organization; we only see the two of them, even if they may be part of something larger.)

The film flashes forward 12 years, and Veronica is now played by Abigail Breslin. It seems she's gone on missions with William before, but this movie is about her first solo mission. We see a bit of her training, both physical and psychological (including being given a sort of fear and hallucination-inducing drug). When it's time for the mission to start, she sets herself up to be chosen as a victim of four young men (I guess she and they are all about 17 years old) who have already killed a number of young women, without being caught. (It seems strange that there's no sign of police looking for a serial killer, and that it remains easy for the killers to keep getting women who don't know them to go with them out to the woods, where the guys hunt them. You'd think at some point people would get suspicious of all strangers, but whatever.) Anyway, the leader of the killers, Jameson, invites Veronica to go out with him, and later picks her up with his three friends, Daniel, Nelson, and Shane. And they go out to the woods, where they sit around playing their own special version of "Truth or Dare." Veronica also gives them some alcohol mixed with the same drug William had injected her with during her training, though Jameson doesn't drink any. Those who do drink it don't feel its effects yet, because it takes like half an hour to kick in, so it isn't until after they've stopped playing and start chasing her that they start hallucinating their worst fears. Which I guess kind of makes it easier for Veronica to kill them, though I don't really think it was necessary, because even without that advantage, she's still a badass.

So, anyway, the hunters become the hunted. I don't really want to reveal more of the plot, but I do think it's interesting that the killers are all sociopaths, themselves, but they're definitely the bad kind. Whereas Veronica seems more empathetic now than she did when she was a child. At least, before the games began, she tried to convince Shane's girlfriend, Gwen, that she deserved better. (Gwen, of course, has no idea what Shane and his friends do in the woods.) But I also feel like it would have been nice for the film to establish more distinctiveness between the killers. They do all use different weapons, at least. One uses and axe, and there's a scene where he's getting ready for the hunt where he seems kind of fun. And one of them uses a baseball bat. One uses a gun. And one of them I'm not sure about. Nor did I manage to make note of which guy used which weapon. Again, not enough distinctiveness for my liking, but also there's the fact that I kind of suck at recognizing different faces of unfamiliar people. And... I don't know what else to say. I feel like the film didn't live up to its potential, but I still found it reasonably entertaining, as something I only need to watch once.

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