Starring Abigail Breslin, Wes Bentley, Alexander Ludwig
Directed by Tyler Shields
The sweet, cherubic face of Abigail Breslin turns into a hardened killer in Tyler Shield’s vigilante-styled thriller Final Girl, and for all intents and purposes on the surface it appears to be a winner, but upon a deeper inspection we get to see a flawed presentation that lacks the hardware to truly entertain.
Cinematography and presence grab honors here, but the lack of some serious questions answered proves to be too much as the film rolls along. Wes Bentley plays an untitled character who becomes responsible for teaching young Veronica (Breslin) how to become a tempered-steel kind of paladin – she is informed at an early age that her parents have passed away, and her emotion towards such crippling information is as barren as the largest desert. For the next 13 years, she will become trained in virtually every facet of combat and mental conditioning in order to be transformed into a heartless enforcer. Her ultimate revenge goal is to cease the activities of a group of wealthy, entitled Momma’s boys who like to lure young women into their clutches and dispatch them in a methodical fashion.
The film progresses like a La Femme Nikita-styled thriller, but the main issue here unfortunately is Breslin’s performance – I’m not talking about her ability to charm and offer up the innocent schoolgirl appearance, but rather the plausibility of her character being able to flip the switch and turn into a programmable automaton of sorts, unflinching when faced with extreme danger – isn’t that what she was being trained for over the past 13 years? Bentley’s motives come off as somewhat unclear other than he’s the man who is going to provide her the tools to reach the end-game of these sadistic rich boys’ sick, murderous pastime. In addition, Bentley’s character doesn’t receive as much screen time as he should, which is disappointing due to the fact that despite his enigmatic persona, he isn’t given a whole lot of time to shine in its display.
However, the main piece of the anchor which weighs Final Girl to the depths of the ocean floor is the myriad of unanswered questions that any viewer could come up with: Where did Veronica come from? Who really is the unnamed man, and why has he chosen her? What’s the true motive behind these brutal killers, and whose decision was it to permit these killings to go on for months and allow so many innocent young women to suffer a cruel fate? All of these pending inquiries mounted over the course of the movie’s runtime and literally blocked any sense of enjoyment or believability I could have had mustered in the viewing.
I’m sure that Mr. Shields will go on to make some fairly memorable pictures in his career, and he’s at the onset right now, but if there’s one thing to learn here, it’s that you can’t survive on just a pretty face alone.