The Final Girls is a London-based film collective that focuses on feminist themes in horror.
Feminist themes in horror, you say?
Well, yes. Horror movies traditionally rely on sexualising and then gruesomely killing off female characters, but the character of the ‘Final Girl’ is an exception. One by one, the girls around her die spectacularly at the hand of the slasher. He’s coming for her next – she’s the final girl. As a character she’s usually morally pure (read: less slutty) and more resourceful than her dead friends. She manages to fight off the slasher alone, eventually killing him in a climactic fight scene. The final girl embodies the sexist stereotype of the respectable woman – bad girls die, good girls get to live – but she also subverts it by not only surviving but killing the killer. She’s the only one left alive to tell the tale.
The Final Girls is about exactly that – surviving the treatment of women in horror and reclaiming the narrative. The film collective offers a series of screenings, Q&As, a zine, and a blog which interrogates how feminine themes are treated by both male and female directors.
In an interview for Broadly, founders Anna Bogutskaya and Olivia Howe explained the need for a new space. Howe said:
“There’s sometimes a stigma associated with women who like horror films. We’ve found that the [horror film community] can be an uninviting space sometimes.” Bogutskaya added, “It was really important for us to create a space for women who enjoy the darker side of cinema. Leaving aside all the issues to do with industry, we wanted to make a fun place for people to enjoy the genre of movies they love—especially women. The last film we screened was Office Killer, by Cindy Sherman. There’s a really good, dark moment in that film and everyone just burst out laughing and it’s a great feeling when you can share that with the audience.”
The Final Girls also highlight the work of women making horror films. In May they will screen XX, the first-ever anthology of horror films made by women. It includes short films by established directors Karyn Kusama (The Invitation), Jovanka Vuckovic (The Captured Bird), and Roxanne Benjamin (V/H/S, Southbound). All of the films have feminine themes and “tackle and subtly subvert expectations placed on women and the roles they play”. The trailer looks terrifying.