Sam Carpenter Is The Best Final Girl We’ve Ever Had

Our genre has a ton of final girls that I’ve learned to like or at least appreciate. However, I have a difficult time relating to most of them because they usually begin their journeys as damsels in distress. They believe the police will save them and almost always have a few moments of complete victimhood. They also seem afraid to get their hands dirty when it comes to protecting themselves. So, they could never be me. Very few final girls manage to sidestep some of these eye-roll-inducing characteristics. This is why Sam Carpenter (played by Melissa Barrera) stands out as a refreshing change. She’s the modern version of what this stock character could and should be.

I have waited my whole life for a final girl who comes out of the gate swinging and makes logical choices. I am forever grateful that Scream (2022) and Scream VI gave us the most vicious ingénue I have ever seen. Samantha Carpenter might look like a princess, but she is the most dangerous character in her movies. She is also constantly denied the moments of helplessness most final girls get. So it is lucky she seems to be a born leader attempting to make the smartest choice available. I love that both movies saw her trying to get the hell out of town while trusting no one but her sister. This is how you stay alive long enough to see the next movie in your franchise.

Also Read: Extreme New Underground Slasher Generates Big Buzz; Compared to ‘Terrifier’

Photo Cr: Brownie Harris/Paramount Pictures ©2021 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Sam is quick on her feet and always on the offensive because she is a Brown woman who has lived on her own for a few years. She had no choice but to learn to take care of herself. She did not have a supportive family or large friend group protecting her. More importantly, as a Brown woman, she has to be her loudest advocate because no one is going to save her. This is a lesson most of us learn the hard way. Just look at how easy it was for the new Ghostface family to turn the internet against her for surviving Richie and Amber. 

The movie never digs too deep into how her identity shakes up this narrative. Although, I can think of countless women of color who catch shit for escaping abusive partners. It’s very realistic to be punished for defending yourself as a WOC in this society. Sam is also quietly ACAB in both movies which is another thing separating her from her counterparts. She has a personal beef with Deputy Judy (and probably her lemon squares, too). Sam and Tara even clock how convenient it is Detective Bailey happened to pull their case in Scream VI. Our final girl is not just smart. She is wise enough to take “everyone is a suspect” to heart especially when it involves the cops.

Another reason Sam wins the ultimate final girl crown is she makes sure her would-be killers stay down. Scream VI sees her run for a knife anytime there is even a whisper of danger. Do you know how many sequels it takes most final girls to learn they’ll never be safe again? Not this queen though. Where other ladies in our genre throw their weapons away and turn from the scene, Sam is thorough in her pursuit to turn her enemies into pincushions. Not only is she about self-preservation, but she also enjoys stabby time and excels at it. I love when she tells her therapist, “There is a darkness inside of me,” because she means it.

Also Read: John Carpenter Prefers Forgotten Horror Movie to its Better Known Remake: “Scared the hell outta me”

Ghostface Incorporated should legitimately be terrified of her. She is a Brown woman who has found the ultimate place to channel her rage and frustration in a world that never gives her space for that. Sam Carpenter is never looking for a fight, but she will damn well throw down if aspiring killers want to try her. Her survival instincts are often credited to her hallucinations of her dead dad, Billy Loomis. However, I believe she is an independent woman who does not need any man, including her ghost father. It is my theory that he is simply a manifestation of her intrusive thoughts. He is the face her subconscious chose to distance herself from the part of her that enjoys putting her enemies six feet under. Sadly, we may never know where this arc goes with the recent developments to the franchise because Spyglass really shit the bed.

I also must talk about Sam Carpenter’s growth between the two films. Remember how unimpressed she was when she got her first call from Ghostface? It was massive put up or shut up energy and the first sign she was a different type of final girl than we are used to. She was also quick on her feet, untrusting of anyone but her sister, and ready to throw down at a moment’s notice. So, when we see her in her second film packing a taser to clear lesser threats like drunk frat boys, we could all breathe easier knowing we would be building on the amazing character we already loved. You could not watch her hesitantly begin to share with her therapist and think we were restarting with a blank slate like other leading ladies who appear in their franchise sequels.

Also Read: This Iconic Horror Game Could Enter The Video Game Hall of Fame

Photo Cr: Brownie Harris/Paramount Pictures ©2021 PARAMOUNT PICTURES.

Sam is a badass in every right and the first final girl I truly have no notes for. Not only does she make sense, but she is also strong, smart, self-reliant, and ready to wreck her would-be murderers’ plans. Again, I like many of the girls we grew up watching, but I could not help judging them and their bad choices. It usually takes them a few movies to get to the place Sam starts at.

Look how many decades went by for Laurie Strode to get serious about her beef with Michael Myers. It took Sarah Connor until Terminator 2: Judgement Day to get to this level. Even Sidney Prescott took the first five movies of the Scream franchise to stop trusting people who have not gotten stabbed alongside her. I hope people are taking notes and we get more characters like Sam. I do not want to return to watching women work through learned helplessness before deciding to save themselves. Or having a man save the day as they cry it out. It is infuriating that so many movies still act as if women are only fragile victims.

While we only had her for two movies, it’s safe to say Sam left her mark on the genre. We might never see her again, but she set a high bar for future final girls following in her footsteps. If you agree that Sam Carpenter is the only correct choice for the final girl crown, find me at @misssharai.



Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter