Friday, January 9, 2015

The Final Girl

In horror movies, there’s a trope of the one young woman who manages to fight off the psychopathic killer or supernatural antagonist until the final act. She survives the harrowing pursuit while her friends and loved ones are picked off around her in the most creatively gruesome ways. She’s virtuous, chaste, clever with a streak of badassery, an excellent screamer with the luck or athleticism to land a few blows.

Sometimes she fails, is the final victim. Sometimes we’re met with a false happy ending, then a twist that shows her night of torment isn’t done. But often she’s the final survivor, staggering into morning light drenched in blood, haunted by the grisly deaths of her friends, love, family right in front of her. Do people think of what happens after the movie is over? How could she live with that trauma? Why did she want to live in the first place, once she knew everyone else was gone?

I could never be the final girl. Watching these movies even as a kid, I was exhausted by the false sense of safety and relief, then the new attack, over and over, it never finishes, it will never finish. I always thought, why doesn’t she just kill herself?

For all my virtuousness and cleverness, I crumble in the face of adversity. I just can’t, I would let it take me, I would turn around my sawn-off shotgun, fall on my machete or jump from the highest window of the haunted mansion.

I also wouldn’t be able to do that much running.