'Final Girl': Film Review

Courtesy of Cinedigm and Nasser Entertainment
Turning the tables should be much more gratifying.

Celeb-photographer Tyler Shields makes a misbegotten foray into features.

A convoluted revenge fantasy that makes not a lick of sense and offers no pleasure in place of logic, Final Girl is the feature debut of Tyler Shields, a photographer known for controversy-courting portraits of celebrities. Word is that Shields already has a second film in post and a third waiting in the wings, but few who watch this will have much hope for his further work directing walking, talking actors; despite the presence of reasonably high-profile leads, the pic is VOD filler at best.

Abigail Breslin plays a young woman who, 12 years ago, was made an orphan by what we presume was a violent crime; after giving her a complex battery of psychological evaluations (that is, having her solve a maze with a pencil), William (Wes Bentley) recruited the prepubescent girl to train for "a very special job."

Cut to the end of her secluded training, where we gradually learn that young Veronica is meant to hunt down a quartet of nightmare preppies who trick girls into joining them in the woods and then hunt them for fun. Forget their crimes, though: these four are such cartoonish douchebags that their dates (and some moviegoers) might prefer death to the thought of spending more time in their presence.

William has taught Veronica important skills: running barefoot in cold grass; tripping on DMT without boring your friends about the details of your visions. But why, again, must she entrap the fellas instead of making bang-bang with a firearm? Guns "run out of bullets," William tells her profoundly. Case closed.

For a photographer, Shields has a surprising lack of interest in creating compelling scenes. Even on-location footage looks like it was shot on a soundstage with a few big white lights plunked down wherever they'd create a convenient silhouette; interiors are worse. (DP Gregory Middleton and a production designer called Tink can't take the blame for these choices.) Unconvincing deployment of mid-century wardrobe and props is, one guesses, purely a matter of adding black-tie glamour to action that is otherwise humdrum, if not painful to endure.

Production company: Nasser Group North

Cast: Abigail Breslin, Wes Bentley, Alexander Ludwig, Emma Paetz, Logan Huffman, Cameron Bright, Reece Thompson

Director: Tyler Shields

Screenwriter: Adam Prince

Producers: Rob Carliner, Jack Nasser, Joseph Nasser

Executive producers: Tara Cowell-Plain, Jeffrey Donnelly, Dureyshevar, Dion York Foley, Jeff Kwatinetz

Director of photography: Gregory Middleton

Production designer: Tink

Costume designer: Maria Livingstone

Editor: Naomi Geraghty

Music: Marc Canham

Casting directors: Judy Lee, Nancy Nayor

R, 84 minutes