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The Comedy-Horror Hidden Gem You Can Watch On Hulu

In 1996, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson perfected self-referential horror with Scream. While Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and her friends never actually became aware that they were inside a horror movie, they did acknowledge that the Ghostface killer was following the rules and tropes of the slasher genre of horror — and the intense adulation the Scream franchise earned was enough to spawn a glut of imitators.

Since Scream, there have been tons of movies that have explored and dismantled what it means to be inside of a horror movie, from serious art-house horror like It Follows to more comedic takes like You Might Be the Killer. Some films marry the comedic and the horrific perfectly, like Joss Whedon's Cabin in the Woods, but there's another self-aware comedic horror movie on Hulu right now that's a must watch if you want the gore of Friday the 13th, the humor of Happy Death Day, and the heart of Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House — 2015's The Final Girls.

What The Final Girls is about

The premise The Final Girls is pretty simple — people from "the real world" accidentally find themselves trapped in a Friday the 13th clone called Camp Bloodbath. With no other means of escaping the movie, the team of horror fans (and horror novices) conclude that the only way out is to survive to the ending credits. Unfortunately that means coping with a group of poorly-written, horny camp counselor stereotypes while the masked killer, Billy Murphy (Daniel Norris), attempts to pick everyone off, one by one.

The horror part of The Final Girls is self evident — the film within a film is called Camp Bloodbath and it certainly lives up to its name, with Billy dispatching people in ways that grow increasingly grotesque. The more disgusting the deaths, though, the more humorous The Final Girls becomes. And the humor plays out not only with the stereotypical characters but with jokes about unrealistic blood, black and white flashback sequences, and some extreme slow motion. But the thing that makes The Final Girls distinct is its heart. Among our team of self-aware would-be horror movie survivors is Max Cartwright (Taissa Farmiga) whose mother, Amanda Cartwright (Malin Akerman), plays Nancy, one of the stars of the original Camp Bloodbath. The catch is the real Amanda died in real life from a deadly car crash. Now, Max has to face Nancy, an apparition of the mother she lost, as she struggles to survive against increasingly impossible odds.

The pedigree of The Final Girls

The reason The Final Girls is successful goes beyond the plot: it also has a killer pedigree behind it. The film is directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, whose ability to parody genre extends beyond horror. Strauss-Schulson's other big claim to fame is that he directed the hit romantic comedy-skewering Isn't it Romantic, starring Rebel Wilson. One of the two writers on The Final Girls is Joshua John Miller, who was actually in Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Teen Witch (which absolutely is a horror movie if you focus on the rap scenes) and a remake of The Wizard of Gore from legendary splatter horror creator Herschell Gordon Lewis.

The cast is on point across the board, but we have to focus on our star, Taissa Farmiga, as Max Cartwright. Just like Max in the movie, Farmiga has horror in her blood, having starred in The Nun and playing multiple roles in Ryan Murphy's horror anthology series American Horror Story.