13 Films that Reinterpret the Final Girl

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Haute Tension (2003)

With Todd Struass-Schulson’s meta horror The Final Girls (read more about that film here) set to be released next week, it’s time to prepare yourself with the appropriate movie marathon.

We’re all familiar with the most famous final girls – those 80s slashers we all love so much are full of them. The final girl is a term coined by Carol Clover in 1987 in her seminal essay, Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film. In the article, Clover outlines several characteristics that the final girl have in common:

– They often have a unisex name (like Laurie from the Halloween franchise and Chris from Friday the 13th Part III)

– She is sexually unavailable or a virgin.

– She’s somewhat of a tomboy.

-Often has a shared history with the killer.

-They tend to be “good girls,” not being heavily into drugs or alcohol.

-The final girl leads the narrative forward by being “intelligent, curious and vigilant.”

Clover asks the question, “why, in these films which are supposedly principally aimed at male spectators, are the surviving heroes so often women characters?” If you’re interested in the topic, I highly recommend reading the article, which can be found for free here. Essentially, though the final girl is masculinized, particularly through her “phallic appropriation” by taking up a weapon such as a knife or chainsaw, she must still be female because she must experience abject terror. Basically, the viewer wants to identify with a guy, but they want to see a woman tortured. Er… I think we can do better. And people have, thankfully! Some filmmakers reject the traditional notion of the final girl – resulting in a fine selection of films that, while embracing the idea of a final girl, also seek to reinterpret, skew, and generally scramble Clover’s original definition. Here are 13 of the best films that reinterpret the final girl.

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