The final girl.
Every old school slasher film has one.
You know who I’m talking about, of course. She’s usually the only person in her circle of friends who isn’t sexually active, who doesn’t drink, and who doesn’t do drugs. She’s usually studious and responsible and it’s usually said that she’s so mature and smart that guys are scared to ask her out. While that may sound like kind of a boring life for a teenager to lead, it also means that there’s nothing around to distract her once the killer shows up. While all of her friends are too drunk, stoned, or naked to escape, the final girl is the one who not only outruns the killer but who occasionally beats his head in as well.
Every slasher film has a final girl but few of them ever really seem to concern themselves with what’s going to happen to her after the end credits roll. (Usually, if there is a sequel, we find out that the final girl died mysteriously a few months after surviving the previous massacre.) It’s only logical that having all of your friends killed over the course of one night would not necessarily leave you in a good place emotionally.
The 2015 horror film Last Girl Standing answers the question, “What happens after the horror movie ends?” In the opening scenes, we find Camryn (Akasha Villalobos) in a very familiar situation. She’s running around the woods. She’s stumbling across the bodies of all of her dead friends. She’s being pursued by a man wearing a deer mask. The man is known as The Hunter and when Camryn finally manages to turn the tables on him, we have reached the point where most slasher films would end.
However, this is right where Last Girl Standing begins.
Two years later and Camryn is still struggling to recover from the night. She’s haunted by nightmares and sometimes, she even has visions of the Hunter stalking her. She’s gotten a job working in a laundromat and her co-workers seem nice but are they? It seems like everyone Camryn meets either asks her about that terrible night or they’re scared to get too close to her, as if she carries bad luck or they’re afraid that the Hunter’s insanity has somehow been transferred to her.
For her part, Camryn worries that someone might be stalking her and it doesn’t help her paranoia when Nick (Brian Villalobos) starts working at the laundromat. Again, Nick seems friendly but is he? Can Camryn ever trust anyone again? Even more importantly, should she ever trust anyone again? As most things do, it all ends in blood and tragedy.
Last Girl Standing is an interesting hybrid of a film. On the one hand, based on the film’s opening and its final scenes, Last Girl Standing is definitely a horror film. And yet, the middle part of the film is far more concerned with examining the life of someone struggling with PTSD than with providing the usual jump scares. While the film’s premise might sound like the setup for a typical slasher film, Last Girl Standing is ultimately more about how we deal with trauma. Akasha Villalobos gives a sensitive and empathetic performance as Camryn and the entire cast of this low-budget film does a good job of grounding this story in reality.
All in all, Last Girl Standing is a worthwhile film for those of us who have wondered what happens after the final credits roll.