The final girl movie trope is long-standing horror tradition. Most people think of characters such as Laurie Strode (Halloween), Nancy Thompson (A Nightmare On Elm Street), Ellen Ripley (Alien), and Sidney Prescott (Scream) when asked about their favorite final girls from horror movies. Although all these women are fine choices, there are plenty of other final girls who have been vastly overlooked and deserve their due recognition.
In fact, many of these characters survive situations that are far more horrific than those faced by the previously mentioned horror movie final girls, and they do it without resorting to terrible genre trends. Whether they're enduring surgical torture, brutal captivity, demon-stalking, or the wrath of an urban legend brought to life, these women encapsulate everything about this empowering horror movie trope. They're survivors, even if they endure a lot to get to the movie's end, and they offer hope to audience members.
After years of seeing women as the usual victims onscreen, watching these unassuming girls rise up against their cinematic monsters is like a badass pep talk to rev any woman up to take on the more practical monsters of the world. Read on and be inspired by these horror movie final girls you may have overlooked.
You're Next is a movie about a home invasion gone wrong that flips the table on the would-be invaders. A wedding anniversary getaway becomes dangerous when the house is attacked by assailants. Little do these assailants know that the girlfriend of one of the family members has a secret past equipping her for just such an event. Raised in a survivalist compound, Erin (Sharni Vinson) fights back with a level of skill that no one could've anticipated.
This isn't a final girl who survives due to a combination of luck and survival instincts. Instead, Erin survives because she knows exactly how to use a variety of weapons to defend herself and is brilliantly cunning and unafraid. There's no luck here, but there's plenty of skills.
Friday the 13th Part 2 is the first film in the series to feature Jason Voorhees as the killer. In the original, it's actually his mother doing all the killing. Ginny Field (Amy Steel) goes face-to-face with Jason before he even adopts the usage of his iconic hockey mask. Ginny also teaches audiences that the best way to survive a villain is by outsmarting them. Not bad for a franchise that may be most guilty of abusing the girls-die-first-especially-if-they-have-sex trope.
If she had to rely solely on physical force, it's possible Ginny wouldn't have made it to the end credits. Instead, she uses Jason's personal obsessions and fears against him.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre shocked audiences in 1974, even though it's not nearly as bloody as most people may think. The film's final girl, Sally Hardesty, gives viewers someone to root for and cringe with thanks to the compelling acting of Marilyn Burns. Rob Zombie would eventually emulate Sally's misadventures in House of a 1000 Corpses.
Sally has to endure horrific torture at the hands of multiple psychopaths, including Leatherface. She escapes twice by jumping out a window and running down the road before she finally gets away for good.
The Descent pits Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) and a group of friends against their worst nightmares in a spelunking adventure that goes very, very wrong. Sarah is initially characterized as the weak link because she's emotionally compromised by the traumatic loss of her husband and child. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Sarah quickly proves herself to be more capable of surviving the ensuing atrocities than everyone else.
Pursued by a mixture of fear, inner demons, actual monsters, and at least one backstabbing friend, Sarah manages to outlast everyone in her group trapped two miles below ground.