When it comes to the term final girl, certain adjectives immediately jump to mind. To fulfill the role, one must possess intelligence, strength and courage. Throughout the horror genre, many women have demonstrated those exact attributes, but for a franchise that stretches over twelve films and thirty-six years, Friday the 13th has rarely delivered on that promise.
In fact, the Camp Crystal Lake series has only pulled it off once. With Amy Steel in Part 2.
While this writer loves Adrienne King, her Alice character from the original was in tears, hiding and hoping someone else would jump in to save the day and only took action out of necessity. And before anyone broaches Lar Park-Lincoln from The New Blood, Tina was bestowed with a particular skill that gave her, let’s call it, an unfair advantage over the rest of the field. No, Ginny was more akin to Heather Langenkamp from A Nightmare on Elm Street or Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from Alien than Jason Lives’ Jennifer Cooke.
Friday’s second final girl was bright, having made an attempt to rationalize the legend of Jason Voorhees by putting it into real terms, and was the only one who cracked the code. Even when Paul joked that he thought she was drunk, she pressed on and was irked at her partner’s disregard. She would not be silenced or marginalized. And we all know that she did, in fact, put her child psychology to work when she outsmarted everyone’s favorite mama’s boy and eluded what would have been certain death.
At first, like the others, Ginny screamed and fled, but what set her apart was her resourcefulness. Like Langenkamp and Weaver and even Halloween’s Jamie Lee Curtis, she almost immediately went into survival mode. Friday’s ultimate final girl did not just hunker down while tears streamed down her face hoping not to be found. She used the wilderness to her advantage to stay out of sight and haul in another direction in an effort to escape or locate someone who could help defend her against the masked maniac. Put another way, Ginny’s actions were strategic.
And when it came time to throw down, once again she did not hesitate. And that’s the point – from the outset, Ginny’s motivation was not fear but rather survival. Never mind the fact that Steel was pretty, but not gorgeous, and possessed acting chops that left her head and shoulders above the competition.
Steel’s emotions were believable.
From her contemplation of what Jason would be like had he survived, confusion about the blood soaked mattress in the cabin, the dread of being pursued, pulling a Jedi mind fuck on the older Jason and the emotional meltdown once she thought it was over. And not for nothin’, but she gets points for having once posed for a picture with Walt Gorney.
Amy Steel’s Ginny was all the things we touched on earlier – intelligent, strong and courageous. To that list, one can add tough, but not in a super hero, I-become-Rambo kind of way. Ginny dripped of realism.
If the conversation turns to Friday final girls, the debate is for second place.
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