Horror movies are known for having the biggest cliches in cinematic history and many of them involve making women the victim – whether it’s the bimbo sorority sister running for her life in an open-shirt and bra, or the one who makes the poor decision of separating from the group making her an easy target for the killer.
It’s these stereotypes that make it all the more satisfying when a horror movie produces a badass ‘final girl’.
She’s the smart-thinking one who’s mastered the art of survival through her strength both physically and mentally, evading the killer – and even turning the knife on their predators in many instances.
Basically, the final girl laughs in the face of the poor damsel in distress trope and beats even the strongest men to the end.
With it being the season of Halloween and all, it’s the perfect time to give these fierce final girls the glory they so deserve.
Erin Harson – You’re Next (2011)
The blender scene pretty much tells you all you need to know about how badass our protagonist Erin is.
Erin simply went for a dinner at her new boyfriend’s family’s house only to find herself dodging crossbows propelling through windows, bullets flying everywhere, an injured leg and then eventually actually getting shot.
And still, she made it to the end.
Her sheer will to survive, quick-thinking and ruthless kills make her a modern final girl hero and we are not worthy.
Iris – Would You Rather (2012)
This is a weird one because Iris didn’t have a happy ending – but she did survive so that makes her a great final girl, right?
Plus after going through the brutal version of the game Would You Rather?, home girl deserves a crown.
Iris agrees to take part in a game to win money for her brother’s treatment to locate a bone marrow donor immediately.
Poor girl was just trying to do a good thing but she ended up playing the most sadistic version of Would You Rather? we’ve ever seen.
From electric shocks to stabbing each other and almost getting raped, Iris played a blinder in getting out alive.
She was one of the final two contestants and had the choice of shooting and killing Lucas to win the money, or letting him walk but going home empty-handed.
Just when it seemed as though Iris’ heart of gold would influence her decision to let him live, she shoots Lucas dead thus winning game.
It was a heartbreaking end though as she arrived back home, exhausted and near-broken, to find that her beloved brother Raleigh had died by suicide.
Give the woman a medal – and maybe some therapy.
Happy Death Day – Tree Gelbman
Imagine having to relive your own death on your birthday of all days.
Well, that’s what happened to the awesome Tree in Happy Death Day and she didn’t even get to have her birthday cake first.
Granted, Tree was the main target so there weren’t tons of other people getting bumped off but she was our female protagonist and she made it to the end.
Watching Tree die repeatedly for 96 minutes could have grown boring really quickly but Happy Death Day managed to put a new refreshing spin on the Groundhog Day-style genre.
It was funny, the kills were innovative and Tree’s unbothered attitude was simply hilarious.
We stan a sassy queen. Especially one that is able to survive a murderous time loop.
Sidney Prescott – Scream (1996-present)
There’s no denying that Scream completely reinvented the horror in the mid-’90s with its bold tongue-in-cheek humour and unapologetic way it mocked the tired tropes in its own genre.
But even better, it offered up our darling Sidney Prescott. The long-suffering student whose mother had just died, only to now be tormented by a serial killer bumping off her pals, before it was revealed her boyfriend and his best mate were wearing the Ghostface masks the whole time.
That’s not easy to recover from but our girl not only fended off the killer in the original Scream but came out on top in three subsequent sequels.
She must be exhausted.
We’re still anxiously awaiting a possible Scream 5 to arrive someday but until then, we hope Sidney is living the happy life she deserves. Killer free, of course.
Sarah – The Descent (2005)
Another heroine with a tragic backstory.
Sarah agreed to go on a caving expedition with her best friends after the death of her husband and daughter, only to find herself trapped, plunged into complete darkness and being hunted by blood-thirsty creatures who pop up when you least expect it.
As if trying to stay alive in those circumstances weren’t bad enough, Sarah also discovered in the midst of the madness that her best friend Juno had an affair with her beloved husband Paul before his death.
Yeah, try dealing with that miles underground.
It would have been wrong for The Descent to end any other way than Sarah emerging as the hero she truly was.
FYI, we’re going to completely ignore the Descent 2 in which Sarah was eventually killed thus ruining her honour.
Laurie Strode – Halloween (1978)
Laurie, played by legendary scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, cottoned onto the fact that the suspicious figure of Michael Myers was lurking around Haddonfield pretty early on, which probably gave her a head start in being cautious.
Well, being aware worked in Laurie’s favour because when her friends started getting picked off one by one, she was prepared to fight.
Even if she had to find impromptu weapons like a clothing hanger in the closet. This type of quick thinking is what got her to the end as the only one in her friendship group to survive The Shape’s murderous spree.
Some argue that Laurie was actually saved by detective Loomis shooting Michael but, let’s face it, she got that far on her own so she absolutely qualifies as a final girl and an iconic one at that.
Sally – Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Widely regarded as the first prominent final girl, Sally managed to survive up against the gruesome Leatherface, his equally insane family and his chainsaw in the middle of nowhere.
Sally’s glorious triumph in the end – being able to escape being tortured by Leatherface and co. by flagging down a passing car – is even more momentous given it was released at a time where strong and empowered women were few and far between.
Even better is that she wasn’t sexualised and managed to keep her clothes on for the duration of the film. A refreshing trend you’ll notice with final girls.
Lila Crane – Psycho (1960)
Norman Bates was able to kill multiple times under the guise of ‘mother’ so it’s remarkable that Lila was able to survive the murderous peeping tom.
Lila was investigating the mysterious disappearance of her sister Marion Crane (played by the legendary Janet Leigh who is also Jamie Lee Curtis’ real life mother), when she risked herself becoming another one of Norman’s victims too.
In the end, Lila survived with the help of Marion’s boyfriend Sam but it was her own wit that helped her evade being slashed by ‘mother’.
Nancy Thompson – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Ah, one of horror’s foremost golden girls. It was Nancy and her street smarts that figured out Freddy Krueger could no longer haunt them if he couldn’t sense fear, thus saving herself and all the other poor kids from his reign of terror.
Nancy was able to keep her head in the game, turning away her boyfriend’s advances to get to the bottom of the man haunting their nightmares and it worked in her favour.
Basically, Nancy clocked back in the ‘80s that sex in a horror movie was a sure-fire way to die.
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