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Iconic Final Girls of the ’90s: fearless heroines who defined a decade of horror

Jennifer Love Hewitt in 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'
Credit: Sony

The 1990s marked a significant era for the horror genre, with a wave of films that introduced us to a new generation of Final Girls. These heroines were not only survivors of terrifying ordeals but also symbols of strength, wit, and resilience.

The ’90s brought a new breed of Final Girls to the forefront of the horror genre. These heroines were not just victims but symbols of empowerment, strength, and resilience. Their enduring impact continues to inspire and empower audiences, showcasing the evolution of the Final Girl archetype in cinema. As the horror genre continues to evolve, these fearless heroines will forever remain a testament to the enduring appeal of strong, resourceful, and fearless women in the face of terror.

Following on from our feature on the original Final Girls, we revisit the iconic Final Girls of ’90s horror movies who left an indelible mark on the genre…

1
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) – ‘Scream’ (1996)

Wes Craven’s ‘Scream’ revitalised the slasher sub-genre and introduced us to Sidney Prescott, portrayed by Neve Campbell. Sidney is a quintessential ’90s Final Girl – intelligent, resourceful, and self-reliant. She’s not content to be a helpless victim, instead actively confronting the masked killer Ghostface and challenging the rules of the horror genre itself. Sidney Prescott became an enduring symbol of empowerment and remains one of the most iconic Final Girls of all time.

2
Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) – ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ (1997)

In the same film, Jennifer Love Hewitt portrayed Julie James, another strong ’90s Final Girl. Julie’s character navigates a web of secrets, guilt, and terror as she tries to uncover the truth behind a deadly accident. Her resilience and tenacity in seeking answers and facing a vengeful killer make her a compelling heroine.

Natalie Simon (Alicia Witt) – ‘Urban Legend’ (1998)

When you think of ’90s horror, ‘Scream’ and ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ immediately come to mind but ‘Urban Legend’ should be right there alongside them. The film spun popular urban legends and turned them into gruesome murder situations as a group of college kids were stalked and picked off by an axe-wielding maniac. Alicia Witt’s Natalie Simon proved resilient and resourceful as those around her fell victim to the killer.

3
Jade (Katherine Heigl) – ‘Bride of Chucky’ (1998)

‘Bride of Chucky’ resurrected the “Child’s Play” franchise and put a twist on the Final Girl trope by having both a Final Girl and a Final Boy. It was Jade though, played by Katherine Heigl, that put an end (temporarily) to Chucky and Tiffany’s chaotic murder spree. In the film’s final act, she shows her steel and grit, as she fires several shots into Chucky and kills him.

Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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