Final Girls: From Victims to Fighters

Final girls like Erin from the movie You’re Next show killers they messed with the wrong person.

In honor of February being Women in Horror Month, I thought it would be fitting for me to highlight some of my favorite “final girls.” What’s a final girl? Glad you asked. First coined by author Carol J. Clover in her book Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, the “final girl” is a trope found in horror films where the last person alive to confront the killer is a girl. Sometimes she is rescued; sometimes she kills the villain; sometimes she manages to escape on her own. As a horror fan, I’ve seen my share of final girls in movies, TV, and books in all sorts of situations. What attracts me to a final girl is her strength. Imagine having to see your friends get killed left and right until you’re the last one standing. The final girl goes from playing the victim to being a survivor and a fighter.

It was hard narrowing down my list (and I know I left out some good ones), but without further ado, my favorite final girls.

Erin | You’re Next

When Erin and her boyfriend attend his family’s reunion, their home is attacked by masked killers. This could have been your average home invasion horror movie, but instead it had a great twist! Erin was raised as a survivalist and knew how to fight back. As a final girl, she set up booby traps for the killers and made weapons out of broken pieces of furniture. Think Home Alone, but more bloody. I’ve never seen a final girl who was raised with survival and combat skills, but it was actually fun watching Erin outsmart the killers.

Alice | A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

I love Nancy Thompson from the first movie, but to me, Alice is my favorite final girl from the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Alice starts off as a meek girl, but as she loses her friends and even her brother to Freddy Krueger, she draws on the strengths of her deceased loved ones to battle Freddy. Despite losing so much, she is still able to beat Freddy and set free the souls of all of Freddy’s victims.

Buffy Summers | Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Yes, Buffy Summers is a final girl. As a vampire slayer, she is tasked with the duty to protect and save the world from evil. What makes Buffy special is that she is surrounded by family and friends (“The Scooby Gang”). But ultimately, she is the Chosen One. In various seasons, she is the final girl, facing the monster on her own.

 

 

Sidney Prescott | Scream

Not only did Scream revitalize the horror genre for a new generation of moviegoers in 1996, the character of Sidney also flipped the switch of the final girl. Before Sidney, you could only survive if you abstained from drugs, alcohol, and sex. Not Sidney. She punched people; she swore; she had sex. The movie franchise has released four movies, and so far, Sidney has appeared in all of them, proving that nothing — and no one — can stop her.

 

Laurie Strode | Halloween

To me, Jamie Lee Curtis is the original scream queen and Laurie, the original final girl. She’s the babysitter who finds all her friends horribly killed by Michael Myers — and she survives. Although an adult Laurie killed Myers in a sequel Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Curtis is returning for a planned reboot later this year. I can’t wait to see her confront the masked killer one more (final?) time.

 

Sue Snell | Carrie

Carrie has been imagined in books, movies, and television, but Stephen King’s Sue Snell is an ultimate final girl. After Carrie White uses her telekinetic powers to kill off the entire student body at prom, Sue is the only survivor. Although she doesn’t directly confront Carrie, she is the one left to tell the story — and as we see in the 1973 movie, it will forever haunt her.

All images are from IMDB.

1 Comment

  • Ronya F. McCool February 16, 2018 at 2:33 am

    Fantastic list. I was only recently introduced to this concept by reading Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes and someone mentioned the “Final Girl” trope to me. “You’re Next” is one of my favorite horror movies specifically because of this trope (and yeah, also because it was filmed in my home state). I’d also add Ripley from Alien & Aliens (having never seen the 3rd film, in which I know she kicked the bucket).

    Reply

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