HomeFilmModern Final Girls: evolving heroines in contemporary horror

Modern Final Girls: evolving heroines in contemporary horror

Lupita Nyong'o in Us
Credit: Universal Pictures

The concept of the “Final Girl” in horror movies has evolved over the years, reflecting changing societal norms and a growing desire for more complex and empowered female characters. In recent years, we’ve seen a new crop of Final Girls who break traditional molds and redefine what it means to be a survivor in the world of horror.

Modern Final Girls in horror movies have evolved to reflect the changing landscape of the genre and society as a whole. These characters are no longer passive victims but empowered survivors who fight back, demonstrating resilience, intelligence, and resourcefulness. They challenge traditional gender roles and provide audiences with complex, relatable heroines who inspire and entertain. As the horror genre continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more diverse and empowered Final Girls who redefine what it means to survive in a world of terror.

Following on from our features on the original Final Girls and the iconic 90s Final Girls, we explore some of the modern Final Girls who have breathed fresh life into the genre…

1
Erin Harson (Sharni Vinson) – “You’re Next” (2011)

In the home-invasion thriller “You’re Next,” Erin Harson emerges as a fierce and resourceful Final Girl. Erin is not just a victim but a survivor who fights back against the attackers with cunning and physical prowess. Her resilience and determination to protect herself and her loved ones showcase a new level of empowerment for Final Girls in the modern horror landscape.

2
Mia Allen (Jane Levy) – ‘Evil Dead’ (2013)

The remake of the classic ‘Evil Dead’ introduces audiences to Mia Allen, portrayed by Jane Levy. Mia undergoes a terrifying and demonic possession, but she doesn’t succumb to it. Instead, she battles the evil forces within her and fights for her own survival. Mia’s transformation from victim to empowered survivor is a testament to the strength and resilience of modern Final Girls.

3
Grace Le Domas (Samara Weaving) – ‘Ready or Not’ (2019)

‘Ready or Not’ presents a unique twist on the Final Girl trope with Grace Le Domas, played by Samara Weaving. Grace is thrust into a deadly game of hide-and-seek with her new in-laws, who are determined to kill her. Her character combines wit, grit, and dark humor as she fights for her life. Grace’s unwavering determination and quick thinking make her a standout modern Final Girl.

4
Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) – ‘Happy Death Day’ (2017)

‘Happy Death Day’ offers a fresh take on the Final Girl concept through the character of Tree Gelbman, portrayed by Jessica Rothe. Tree finds herself trapped in a time loop, forced to relive her murder on her birthday repeatedly. Throughout the film, she evolves from a self-centred and apathetic college student into a more empathetic and resourceful heroine. Her character growth and determination to break the cycle demonstrate the resilience of modern Final Girls.

5
Adelaide Wilson/Red (Lupita Nyong’o) – ‘Us’ (2019)

Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ challenges the Final Girl trope by presenting a duality in the character of Adelaide Wilson and her doppelganger, Red, both portrayed by Lupita Nyong’o. Adelaide’s complex journey involves confronting her past and battling her sinister counterpart. The film blurs the lines between victim and antagonist, showcasing the complexity of modern horror heroines.

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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