A group of rich young men make a sport of "hunting" teenage girls for sport in the woods near their town. Unbeknownst to them, one of the victims they choose is a trained assassin who will not go down without a fight. Final Girl is an intriguing twist on the slasher movie genre, as there is no mystery from the start who the killers are. What is mysterious is the background of Veronica, the eponymous 'final girl' and her trainer, William. William first meets Veronica when she is a young child, shortly after the death of her parents (in an accident or through some other means, we are not told) and offers to take her with him and train her for a special job. He says he volunteered for his job after his wife and child were murdered. That's all the background information we get about these two and the organisation they work for, if there even is one.
The film takes its title from the trope of the 'final girl' who is the last survivor in many slasher films, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Scream etc. William trains Veronica to act as bait, willingly going into the woods with the boys, in order to put an end to their killing.
Abigail Breslin (Zombieland, Scream Queens, Signs) is haunting as the wide eyed Veronica. I think the last thing I saw her in was Zombieland, in which she was still such a little girl, so it was unsettling to see her here trained to choke a man unconscious with her bare hands, but she managed to make her fight scenes look totally believable. Alexander Ludwig (Vikings, The Hunger Games), is very creepy as the privileged young sociopath, Jameson, but he is almost upstaged by Danny, played by Logan Huffman looking like a young John Travolta. Despite being on the poster, Wes Bentley (American Horror Story, American Beauty) is off screen for most of the film, but does a fine job as William, Veronica's distant, soft-voiced yet menacing mentor.
The story reminded me a little of Joe Wright's Hanna (2011), which is also about a young girl trained to be an assassin, though in that case by her father. I did wonder perhaps if William actually was Veronica's father and her memories of whatever traumatic event started them down that path were confused, but the film doesn't give you any easy answers or a neat ending.
The film has a lot of very creepy visuals, in particular when various characters are hallucinating after taking a mixture of drugs which supposedly cause people to see visions of their greatest fear. It doesn't rely much on gore, focusing more on suspense.
"We see you have let your monthly donation to the World Wildlife Fund lapse."
Final Girl is an unusual horror film. It is well acted and directed, and creepy, but not to the extent that you can't sleep after watching it, at least not unless you are mortally afraid of pandas. It was directed by Tyler Shields and released in 2015.