“The Last Final Girl is like Quentin Tarantino’s take on The Cabin in the Woods. Bloody, absurd, and smart. Plus, there’s a killer in a Michael Jackson mask.” – Carlton Mellick III, author of Apeshit
Life in a slasher film is easy. You just have to know when to die.
Aerial View: A suburban town in Texas. Everyone’s got an automatic garage door opener. All the kids jump off a perilous cliff into a shallow river as a rite of passage. The sheriff is a local celebrity. You know this town. You’re from this town.
Zoom In: Homecoming princess, Lindsay. She’s just barely escaped death at the hands of a brutal, sadistic murderer in a Michael Jackson mask. Up on the cliff, she was rescued by a horse and bravely defeated the killer, alone, bra-less. Her story is already a legend. She’s this town’s heroic final girl, their virgin angel.
Monster Vision: Halloween masks floating down that same river the kids jump into. But just as one slaughter is not enough for Billie Jean, our masked killer, one victory is not enough for Lindsay. Her high school is full of final girls, and she’s not the only one who knows the rules of the game.
When Lindsay chooses a host of virgins, misfits, and former final girls to replace the slaughtered members of her original homecoming court, it’s not just a fight for survival-it’s a fight to become The Last Final Girl.
Horror After Dark Review
THE LAST FINAL GIRL, by Stephen Graham Jones, was a fun, “B-style movie” book that referenced many of the ’80’s and other slasher films that I grew up on. The key component was that all the examples fell into the “final girl” troupe.
“. . . slashers make final girls come into their own . . . “
Written as though it was more of a screenplay, this novel begins with the survival of Lindsay Baker–the “final girl”–whose friends were all murdered by a man in a Michael Jackson mask. While Lindsay details the ordeal (suffering from only a shoulder wound), the one thing she seems uncertain of is why the killer’s body wasn’t found.
In short, the perfect set up for a sequel.
“Movies don’t create psychos, movies make psychos more creative.”
Enter best friends Izzy and Brittney, the bad girls to counter Lindsay’s “good girl” image.
I must admit that the style–where scenes kept jumping around randomly exactly as if it were a movie, and very few chapter breaks–was tedious at first. After about a quarter of the way through the novel though, I had adjusted somewhat and was able to read through more fluidly, knowing now what to expect.
“. . . everything’s horror, isn’t it? Sometimes you just can’t see the blood.”
True to slasher movie form, Jones introduces many more characters to convolute the main plot, add sub-plots, and of course, provide extra bodies to magnify the body count. What made this stand out was having one of the main characters, Izzy, explain the steps to final girl movies and sequels all throughout.
“. . . It’s not bullets or fire or telekinesis or lightning or sequels . . . that kill a slasher, it’s being unmasked . . . “
Some parts are meant to be obvious in this comedic take on the horror/slasher films, while others came off as surprising–even to myself, and I had seen many of the referenced movies.
“. . . maybe the expected’s gone full circle . . . Maybe it’s so obvious now that that’s the only thing that can be a surprise.”
Most of the characters weren’t that remarkable, but they were designed to be that way. Only a handful of the people in this novel have strong, memorable personalities. These, of course, are our new crew of potential “final girls”. As Lindsay goes about picking a homecoming crew to replace those that were murdered in the original massacre (before our novel opens), it soon becomes obvious that she’s picking these candidates for reasons of her own.
“. . . she’s setting it up so she’s the final girl of all the final girls . . . “
Overall, I found this to be a very unique novel, in style, and the way the subject material is all-consuming at every turn. There is never any question that this is an homage, of sorts, to the final girlmovies. I’ve always enjoyed sarcasm and dark humor with my horror, so this book was right up my alley in terms of content. The few characters we needed to know were predictable when they supposed to be, and yet less so during surprise moments–keeping me on my feet, mentally. If you’re a slasher movie fan, chances are good that you’ll enjoy this book-version as well.
“Life in a slasher film is easy. You just have to know when to die.”
*This book was part of my NightWorm’s subscription package.*
About The Author
About Stephen Graham Jones
Born and raised in Texas. In Boulder, Colorado now. Forty-five. Blackfeet. Into werewolves and slashers and zombies. Would wear pirate shirts a lot if I could find them. And probably carry some kind of sword. More over at http://demontheory.net or @SGJ72