The final girl; a concept widely used in horror movies since the dawn of that particular era and a favourite subject to converse about amongst fans of the genre and students studying Film & TV. The world loves a ‘final girl; and fan favourites give rise to arguments on who holds the top spot, but in reality, these feminine hero-survivors share similar qualities when it comes to defeating the protagonist and are seen as equal top spot holders.
Our beloved genre holds a list of fierce final girls; Sidney Prescott played by Neve Campbell from Scream, Laurie Strode played by Jamie Lee Curtis from Halloween, Lorraine Warren played by Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring franchise and the list grows. However, horror breaks the rules from time to time; no final girls or final guys are left to stand tall yet traumatised from the events they’ve survived through. These films involve The Grudge, Hereditary, It Follows, Sinister and the infamous Terrifier movies; Art the clown will make Pennywise look like a Disney princess and that statement is simply prohibited to debate.
Our survivor girls share traits that work hand-in-hand with the audiences survival guide when they scream at the television to don’t go in there, that’s it, walk away or run, and these are the reasons why they survive; they do the things we normally say out loud.
We see a detailed explanation of such concepts during the end scene of The Cabin in the Woods, where catastrophes and deaths are imminent to appease the Gods that lay beneath our world and the number of sacrifices they need; the unruly girl, the athlete, the smart one, the joker and the innocent one. These are known as character profiles that every group of friends in horror films have and the innocent one is known as the survivor, the final girl or final guy.
This is because they aren’t clouded with fantasies and they pay attention to their doubts and fears. Often times, while their group of friends put themselves into a dangerous scenario that will involve death, final girls can sense when something is wrong, they’re the ones that are labelled crazy by their peers until it’s too late and they had wished they had listened to their friend. They hold an immense strong will to fight and survive the danger that falls unto them, their will increases only after stumbling upon their deceased friends.
Their history involves a past traumatic experience that still haunts them, but that experience fuels their fight in life when faced with a second trauma; their knife-wielding enemy. Sidney Prescott still grieves the death of her mother in the first Scream movie, throughout the Halloween franchise, Laurie Strode’s first encounter with Michael Myers plunges her into the depths of depression and alcoholism while distancing herself from her daughter and grand-daughter, Dani from Midsommar is still fresh in the grieving pits of hell when her family die and so on.
But why do we love these characters? We love that they are still alive, still fighting, still wanting life to prove there’s still good there after the first trauma. We live for these characters and feel their emotions because we are them. We feel their pain because it’s our own pain from our own life. We try to send all our strength to them when they’re on screen because we want them to live, we want to still live. Especially after trauma. Perhaps we’re all the final girls. Perhaps that’s why they’re crucial to us because we are them and they are us. All fighting to stay alive. All fighting together.