Directed By: Tyler Shields
Written By: Adam Prince
Story By: Johnny Silver, Alejandro Seri & Stephen Scarlata
Cinematography By: Gregory Middleton
Editor: Naomi Geraghty
Cast: Abigail Breslin, Wes Bentley, Alexander Ludwig, Logan Huffman, Cameron Bright, Reece Thompson, Emma Paetz, Francesca Eastwood
Loner Veronica is new to school, shy and vulnerable, the perfect target for a group of teenage boys who lure girls into the woods to hunt and kill them for sport. Little do they know, Veronica is an assassin-in-training, and she’s chosen killing these boys as her final test. The term, “Final Girl”, comes out of a trend in early slasher films where the sole survivor or the last to die was often a female.
This film is pretty straight forward as it tells you everything and in case you forgot. Keeps reminding you. Everything is here by design rather then organic
Though at it’s heart it remains a mystery. Like the first issues of a comic book. Where we get the training, the mission, but still the past is a mystery. That is usually revealed as the series goes along. So that with this film were there sequels planned was this supposed to be a low budget entry into hopefully building a franchise.
As it plays like a good pilot episode. We are still left with so many questions. As it seems like she is a vigilante set forth on these murderous young men, but why. As in the beginning we find out her parents were killed and so was his wife and he is training her. We’re they killed by these young men? Was it random and he decided to train a young woman to be a vigilante. Did he kill her parents to get her? It couldn’t be these young men who killed either of their families as she seems to be roughly the same age as them. So how does her mentor even know about them. This seems to be a mission. Is it the only one? Is it her real first one?
It also never explains why these tying men do it. Are they just psychopaths? As they seek to represent unrepentant evil. It is also just easy to hate white privileged young males. You can almost just fill In whatever reason to tip the audience over the edge to hate. Even though they are usually the protagonist of many films also.
At first presenting itself as another addition to the underage female assassin or spy films that have popped up recently like HANNA, VIOLET & DAISY, BARELY LETHAL. This film begins with an opening letting us know she is an orphan. The. Goes into more detail when it comes to her training. Then the film begins to morph into a not surprising horror film that only achieves that effect because of the set-up (I.e the dark woods, each killer has a specific weapon as they stalk their prey her) but plays out more as an action thriller. The only time it tries to be scary is In Hallucinations and only one In Particular.
The film has style that is artful. It also makes it seem like the film is stuck in a time Warp as the surroundings and style make it seem permanently stuck in the 1950’s and everyone dresses well. Sort of like they are going to the prom.
While I can say the visuals are stark l. The film also at towns can come off as pretentious. As it seems like maybe more of a study of this type of genre and putting types. In there to make it a basic rundown of cliches. As again there are no surprises and everything you expect happens or are told then it does.
It’s nice to see a young woman not portrayed as a victim and be an actual action heroine. At least here it feels a bit make believable. Rather then over the top or an obvious movie situation. Though the film kind of undermines her toughness. By constantly reminding us that she had to drug her prey to really take them on. On their own terms. Now while that can be seen as ideal. For a film trying to show us how much of a bad-ass she is. It dilutes it’s own belief. Though Abigail Breslin stays believable as you can see her as tough and vulnerable at times.
The four main villains all seem to be defined by their phobias and weapons of choice. Though it doesn’t hurt that everyone including the them seems to be model-esque beautiful in this film. I am not really sure if they are supposed to be in high school or college. As that is another thing that stays vague. They all seem to have their reasons for wanting to stop. Except the over the top character and the leader. Who also seems very bored by everything. The other two. One is a momma’s boy with Oedipal feelings and the other is in a relationship. That is pulling him away from the group. That role is played by former child star Cameron Bright from The TWILIGHT Films, who looks like the offspring of Joaquin Phoenix. Also surprised to see actor Reece Thompson who here moves form his more awkward screen appearances. into more of a sturdy hunky character actor
Having said that the film seems to strive to be different and memorable. Which only leaves it to be more annoying at times. The action sequences are good. They are brief but pack a lot of wallop.
The way it is filmed is inspired. as it seems to only have a few locations and uses them to their fullest. The woods are constantly well lit. The diner could come out of a David lunch film with it’s wholesomeness and being the headquarters of everything.
Though at times the film feels more theatrical and like the product of a inspired fashion shoot rather then scenes. Especially as one scene has two characters face to face and then the screen fills with red powder. Abstract symbolism for no real reason then it might look cool. Maybe as this is Tyler Shields First film. He seems to go overboard loading the film with style when at times a lighter touch would be fine. Making it come across as a pretentious specimen.
By the end. It is a satisfying film that is basic but tries not to be. Though only sinks itself more into being that way.