Publication Date: April 12, 2015
In The Final Girl by Brandon Ford, the slasher classic “Bloodletting” has been remade and viewers brave the single screen Colonial Theater to see the midnight show. Before the movie begins, a killer starts picking off patrons. Will the movie blogger, the set of teen twins, the fugitive or the woman running from betrayal get out alive?
The author, Brandon Ford, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
So you’ve read the description and said to yourself, “I’ve seen this premise before.” As a whole, sure; it’s not incredibly unique, but the execution of the premise is something very special. There’s a Hershel Gordon Lewis-style (Two Thousand Maniacs) inelegance in the style that lends itself to the manic feel of the piece. Ford isn’t taking any prisoners or making any promises, and that’s very clear from the start. Not all players, and maybe none of them, will survive the night.
The idea behind this book is kind of personal nightmare, an unlikely sign of the times. Horrible things can happen now when you go for an immersive escape in a dark but public theater. Certainly, Coey, a 25-year-old stoner whose short-term goals are scoring and drinking himself into oblivion, expects a fairly boring evening. Nothing can beat the first “Bloodletting” and if his blog fans weren’t demanding a review of the remake, he wouldn’t bother heading out to see it. The twins Ted and Tyler are high on the idea of sneaking out for the first time and seeing a forbidden fruit kind of show. Ted, admittedly, is more into the idea than his brother; a reticent teen that has the bladder control of a woman carrying a full-term pregnancy. Are the twins the characters that will surprise readers or when the serial killer strikes will they be easily picked off?
Lisa is living with her best friend when she comes home to find the woman’s abusive ex-husband settled on the couch and telling Lisa that he’s moving in and marrying her best friend, but Lisa will have all the time she needs to find somewhere else to live. Lisa is the character that you wonder if she’ll eventually sacrifice herself. She’s been betrayed and Ford draws her as a person that feels very convincingly alone in the world. She is that person that wants to help and wants everyone to be the best version of themselves and she is devastated for both herself and them when they disappoint her. That said, with anger as her go-to, she could very well be the one that survives if Ford grants such a gift. Aric is all of us. He’s the college grad working in the restaurant because, as Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs says, “We’re educating for jobs that no longer exist.” Where can a man take his college degree but a diner and Caitlin is a waitress with dreams. All of the characters are exquisitely crafted and uniquely interesting with distinct voices, but Ford makes clear from the start that we shouldn’t get too attached to any of them.
The Final Girl is in no way just a slasher fic. It is a story with depth and dimension — with motivation. We see the souls of people before they meet their doom. We see the connection between Aric and Caitlin and the breakdown. There is no escape from the nutjob with the meat tenderizer, but there’s also no escape from the worries of life, as our subjects discover. Ford’s writing has depth and focus. Ford’s editing is flawless and the 316 pages flew by and felt like a read that could be absorbed in a single afternoon. The Final Girl is a journey and the only point that disappointed me was the ending. It felt done in a way that didn’t serve the unique flavor of the rest of the piece but still showed a skill and quality that few authors master.
If you’re looking to be engaged and terrified, pick The Final Girl up today. There are some raw scenes and, of course, a lot of violence but it is in the spirit of a horror classic. Do not miss this great work.
Read an excerpt and buy The Final Girl by Brandon Ford on