The Final Girls hit theaters this weekend with rave reviews. A parody of the '80s slasher genre, the movie pokes fun at horror clichés while telling an emotional story with heart. Max (Taissa Farmiga) watched her struggling actress of a mother, Amanda (Malin Akerman) die in a car crash. Three years later, Max and four friends attend an anniversary screening of Camp Bloodbath, a Jason-esque horror flick starring Max’s late mother. Somehow, the teenagers end up in the movie, where Max has the chance to save a version of her mother.
Screenwriters and life partners Joshua John Miller and M.A. Fortin recently revealed their inspirations for the horror comedy. Although films like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp provided an obvious template for the genre, it was Miller’s late father, actor Jason Miller that inspired the protagonist’s relationship with her mother.
As Miller explained in an interview with Creative Screenwriting:
“The movie we wrote was originally out of love of slasher movies but also came into existence because my father played a priest in The Exorcist, Father Karras. We wanted to do some kind of tribute to that. We’re writing partners and we’re also partners in life, so Mark knew I was trying to tell a story about my father’s death but I couldn’t really tell it in any factual way. As they say, sometimes fiction is closer to the truth… I grew up watching my dad in The Exorcist, and there’s something haunting, strange, confusing, and a little bit unnatural to see your parent constantly die in a film. But it’s something that also becomes iconic, and we tried to deconstruct what the effects of that would be, as well as what it would be like if you had a second chance, but your second chance was inside of a movie?”
Miller goes on to explain why Woody Allen's early film, The Purple Rose of Cairo, is so important to film buffs and provided inspiration as well:
"The Purple Rose of Cairo was a huge inspiration while we were writing the movie. It’s hard not to take that into account because it’s one of the great movies that is about our obsession with fantasy. It’s also a movie made for film lovers because I think we all secretly wish we could disappear into the movies. Look at Walt Disney, he built a whole theme park that’s a living movie, really. [Laughs]"
"That’s really what the movie is about, it’s a girl’s fantasy of what it would mean to erase the past, the way in The Purple Rose of Cairo Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels have that opportunity, or she thinks she has that opportunity but unfortunately she does not. It became a sandbox to play in for us, and it was a lot of fun to write."
In The Final Girls, Miller and Fortin successfully tell a heartfelt story about grieving amid a movie packed with witty one-liners and horrific death scenes. Akerman and Farmiga are the perfect onscreen mother-daughter duo for such a story.