Four of Our Favorite Horror Film “Final Girls”
In the horror genre, there is a classic trope that represents the survivor of the story who confronts the killer and is the last one left alive to relay the terror of their tribulations.
This character, known as the “final girl,” takes many different forms throughout film, in slasher flicks and science fiction, as the woman who has to overcome the maniacal murderer not only for her own sake, but for the sake of the viewers who now identify with the survivor as the rest of the cast has been killed off over the course of the plot.
As we kick off Spooktacular week, let’s take a look at four of our favorite “final girls” of horror films!
Ellen Ripley has been identified as the final girl of the Alien franchise, especially in the eponymous first film. As the crew of the Nostromo is slowly picked off one by one thanks to the horrifying Xenomorph onboard, Ripley becomes the last human that viewers can identify with in the struggle against the alien threat.
While her status as a final girl doesn’t entirely align with the way the trope plays out in most slasher films rather than science fiction, she still shows strength and determination as she commences the self-destruct sequence on the Nostromo in order to destroy the Xenomorph threat. Her first name is Ellen, but she is more commonly referred to by fans and other characters as Ripley, which is a neutral name that audiences can identify with more easily.
Recently, it was announced that Jamie Lee Curtis would be returning to her role as Laurie Strode in the Halloween franchise, which launched her career as an actress. On Halloween evening, her friends are killed off as the looming specter of the haunting Michael Myers stalks her through the night.
Laurie is a final girl not only because she outlasts her attacker and is technically the viewpoint of the story, but because she isn’t wholly successful in destroying him at the end of the first film either. After being saved by Dr. Sam Loomis, Laurie is again haunted by Myers in the sequel, Halloween II.
Alice Hardy is the final girl of the first Friday the 13th film, although she is the first character to die in the immediate sequel at the hands of Jason Voorhees. She “plays by the rules” of the horror genre by being a well-behaved young woman who notices when things are unusual and dangerous.
When Alice enters the situation of having to be smart to survive, she makes the realization that Mrs. Voorhees is the murderer and then must fight back. Her victory over Mrs. Voorhees, by way of decapitation, is the catalyst for the sequels of the Friday the 13th series, setting off Jason‘s murderous revenge-kick after witnessing the death of his mother.
From A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy Thompson is regarded as an incredibly influential heroine of the horror genre. She dies in the third film of the franchise, but by then has outlasted Freddy Krueger in his initial attacks and helped another group of survivors to outwit the dream demon’s powers. Nancy is smart, sensible, and very aware of the world around her.
Her moment of overcoming Krueger in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street film comes from her strength of character, where the takes aware his power by outwitting him and setting up her own traps for the monstrous man. Where many other final girls seem unable to change fate directly, Nancy doesn’t simply survive- she fights back.
There are dozens of other awesome final girls in the horror genre who outwit and outlast some serious maniacs. They give us someone to identify with and a glimmer of hope that maybe we too could survive a machete-swinging man-monster. To read our countdown to Halloween featuring 9 deadly maniacs, monsters, and murderers, check out our Day 1 profile on Freddy Krueger.
The scary fun is only just getting started! Join us all week long for Spooktacular fun, and be sure to read our Survival Guide. Stay tuned to our social media and the blog to keep up on all the action!