Studio: Sony Pictures; Anchor Bay
Reviewed by: Jonny Botsch
The eighties were the prime time for slasher movies. They had a pretty epic run from 1974 to 1984, and then began to fizzle out. Basically, inferior sequels flooded the market until audiences were tired. Scream brought back the slasher in the nineties, albeit a little cleaner and less sleazy. The Hollywood studio slashers had their moment and then disappeared as well. Much like the western or the zombie genres, the slasher will never be truly gone. Every once in a while a good one comes out trying to recapture the magic of the golden age. However, it's peculiar for two such films to come out at the same time. So, this is a comparative review to establish which is the stronger release.
While both boast their movie is the ultimate '80s retro homage on their respective box covers, The Final Girls is funny while Lost After Dark is not. Not to say that Lost After Dark doesn't have some laughs, (most classic slashers do) but it isn't a comedy. The Final Girls is simply Friday the 13th meets Hot Tub Time Machine.
In The Final Girls the main character's mom was an actress in a classic slasher and is the one girl who survives to the end of the film. After her mom passes away, her friends convince her to go to a special screening of that movie as a guest and see how much people still love it all these years later. There's a fire and our cast of characters escape through a hole in the screen and instantly find themselves inside the movie interacting with the on screen characters and trying to figure out how to navigate the rules of the genre and survive to the end of the movie. The cast is superb and includes Malin Akerman (Watchmen), Taissa Farmiga, Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley), Adam Devine, Alexander Ludwig, and Alia Shawkat. The story moves at a good clip too and should keep you entertained. It is brightly lit and colorful, and shines a new light on the old slasher film tropes.
By comparison, Lost After Dark is a smaller budget movie with a no name cast (aside from Robert Patrick) and is far darker. The plot revolves around some highschool seniors who instead of going to the lame school dance decide to jack the school bus and go off into the wild to have fun. Of course they're going to get into trouble and have to stave off our wily killer. Solid and formidible in it's own right, Lost After Dark is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a slasher revival film.
Here's the rub, taking everything into consideration, I would say that The Final Girls is the better movie. It's a little more polished and the humour makes it a fun watch. So, the average movie watcher should go with The Final Girls. However, I would be remiss to talk about slasher movies and not take into account the classic slasher fan. A classic slasher fan might find The Final Girls a touch disingenuous. While it has neon lighting and the fashion of the eighties, its '80s is idealized and nothing like those movies really looked or felt like. It is an exaggeration. Lost After Dark is more true to the '80s slasher, trying not just to look the part, but to be the part.