You’ve probably heard of ‘the final girl’ or you’ve watched a slasher/horror movie, or read a book where that trope is evident. It’s an iconic horror trope embodied by strong heroines who can survive any bloodbath or murder spree. She’s the last girl left standing, hence the term; the one who escapes the killer or is the one to outsmart and defeat him at the very end of the movie. The trope has become so popular that it has transcended from screen to page as seen by the recent publishings of The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix, Final Girls by Riley Sager and My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones. The term ‘final girl’ was coined by Carol J. Clover in her 1992 book, Men, Women and Chainsaws. The book sets out to discuss why slashers, a genre of film often geared toward males, often include a female protagonist. The earlier versions of the final girl followed certain rules: She doesn’t drink, she doesn’t have sex and she’s a “good girl,” like Laurie in Halloween, for example. In recent years, those rules have bent, allowing for more intelligent and realistic final girls to shine, which leads me to my top three favourite final girls.
3. Sidney Prescott (Scream)
Arguably one of the best final girls, my love for Sidney Prescott has been reawakened as I watched the new Scream. She is truly untouchable and I root for her every movie. The consistency in which she has been able to defeat every Ghostface killer in the franchise is admirable and entertaining. With each unveiling of Ghostface’s real identity, Sidney’s trust is routinely shattered throughout the franchise. The writers have tapped into something that has never been seen before as each movie is essentially a murder mystery stemming from the original story, but each Ghostface killer has their own motive to kill Sidney and her friends. Something that I love about Scream is that the movies don’t attempt to gloss over Sidney’s trauma; instead, they embrace it to further the franchise’s plot.
2. Zoey Davis (Escape Room)
Zoey Davis is one of the most underrated and rarely mentioned characters when it comes to the final girl discussion, and it’s a shame because she is by far the smartest and wittiest. She’s the perfect final girl in my opinion. While Zoey does fall under the traditional rules: She doesn’t drink or do drugs, she is a bit of a nerd (as in she enjoys quantum science) and she never goes against her morals. In Escape Room & Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, Zoey has come out as top-surviving during the most gruelling of rooms that could have led to her death by being burned alive, falling into the abyss, and being trapped under ice and drowning. Most importantly, she is one of the first Black final girls which overthrows the stereotype that Black people oftentimes die in horror films.
1. Grace Le Domas (Ready or Not)
I feel like if you’ve seen this movie, especially the last 20 minutes, I don’t even have to explain why Grace is my favourite final girl. In fact, this whole movie is a comfort film of mine, and while Grace doesn’t fit the traditional definition and type of a final girl (within the first few minutes of her being onscreen she smokes and talks openly about sex with her fiance), she writes her own rules and executes it well. She’s vulgar, witty and resourceful as she tries to survive a centuries-old game of Hide & Seek to officially be married into the Le Domas family. There are so many great one-liners I can quote but my favourite thing about Ready or Not is her wedding dress. It starts off as this beautiful long, lacy white dress, and through everything Grace endures. she’s left with a bloodied, ripped-up dress that is just as frazzled as she is.