On International Women’s Day, let’s take a moment to pay homage to some of the forgotten final girls within the past 20 years.
When you hear the term “final girl,” what comes to mind? You probably imagine the classic final girls, like Laurie Strode, Nancy Thompson, or Sidney Prescott. Although these women are absolute icons, it is important to remember that there are so many amazing final girls out there.
In no particular order, let’s look at just ten final girls that have stood out within the last 20 years.
1. Cecilia, The Invisible Man (2020)
When Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) escapes her abusive ex-boyfriend, strange things begin to occur around her. Despite his apparent suicide, Cecilia is not convinced that he is dead, leading others around her to believe that she is crazy. The worst part? Cecilia cannot see him, which only causes those around her to further discount and gaslight her.
Because of the pandemic, The Invisible Man did not receive the love it deserved. Elizabeth Moss does a phenomenal job portraying a woman fearing her safety. And it’s heartbreaking and infuriating seeing her go through hell while no one believes or supports her.
The ending for this movie is, by far, one of the most satisfying endings to a horror film I have seen in a while.
2. Anita “Needy”, Jennifer’s Body (2009)
After her best friend, Jennifer (Megan Fox), goes off to the woods with a local band hellbent on making a name for themselves, Needy (Amanda Seyfried) begins to suspect something is wrong. Jennifer doesn’t seem like herself anymore. Eventually, she reveals to Needy that she was used as a virgin sacrifice in a quest for fame and fortune. But since Jennifer wasn’t actually a virgin, she instead became permanently possessed.
Needy realizes Jennifer is a succubus that must eat human flesh to live, and the only way to end her reign of terror is to try to kill her when she is hungry and weak.
I have always thought the character Needy was so strong. It’s not just because she’s a fighter who survives in the end. But poor Needy had to kill her best friend, essentially her sister and soul mate. Can you imagine how hard that would be? I can tell you right now if my best friend was a man-eating succubus, I don’t think I could bring myself to kill her.
After being unfairly shunned upon release, this wonderful film has thankfully found its way into the hearts and minds of horror fans everywhere. Still, it remains criminally underrated, in my opinion. And while Jennifer gets all the love, Needy is the real MVP in my book.
*Jennifer’s Body is available to stream on Tubi for free.
3. Clear Rivers, Final Destination 1 & 2 (2000, 2003)
After narrowly escaping death, Clear Rivers (Ali Larter) does her best to assist her friend/love interest, Alex Browning (Devon Sawa), to figure out who will die when and how to stop that seemingly inevitable chain of death.
Clear is one of the only survivors of the first Final Destination and even makes her return in the second film. Ultimately, death comes for everyone, even the tough-as-nails Clear. But she definitely does not go down with a fight, and I love her for it.
Ali Larter is such a strong actress, pulling off this memorable character so well.
4. Maddie Young, Hush (2016)
Imagine you are a single woman living alone in a secluded area. On top of that, you cannot hear any dangers around you because you are deaf.
That is the situation that the main character, Maddie (Kate Siegel), faces in this film. After a serial killer (John Gallagher Jr) notices Maddie is unresponsive to his tapping on the glass, he realizes that she is deaf, making her (what he assumes to be) an easy target. He breaks in, steals her phone, and terrorizes her throughout the night.
When I first saw this film years ago, I did not think much of it. After rewatching it, I think it is such an underrated horror film and an early indication of just how talented director Mike Flanagan really is.
Maddie is definitely a survivor and someone who refuses to be a victim, and I love the fact that I genuinely did not know if she would make it out alive or not.
5. Rocky, Don’t Breathe (2016)
When a trio of thieves, Rocky (Jane Levi), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto), learn of the fortune of a blind war veteran (Stephen Lang), they presume it will be an easy job. However, the group quickly discovers just how naive they were to assume such a thing, as the blind man uses all of his other senses to help protect himself from the thieves.
In the end (SPOILER ALERT), after a series of suspenseful events and wondering if anyone will survive the blind man’s wrath, Rocky is the sole survivor of the night of terror.
When I first saw this movie in theaters, I could not help but find myself holding my breath along with the characters. I worried if Rocky would actually get away from the blind man. I also worried she would fall victim to his evil and disgusting plan (a sadistic plot twist not easily forgotten).
If you’ve seen Evil Dead (2013), you know that Jane Levi is one hell of a final girl, and she cements her royal status here.
6. Beverly Marsh, It (2017, 2019)
I know this option may ruffle some feathers. But the way I see it, Beverly Marsh (played by both Sophia Lillis in Chapter One and Jessica Chastain in Chapter Two) is what a final girl is all about.
She is the only girl in a group full of guys, and she proves herself to be just as strong and brave. She is able to help defeat Pennywise, and she shows what it means to fight “like a girl.”
This final girl doesn’t get enough love. She’s survived more than most of us could even begin to comprehend, including a tortured childhood that would have been enough to scar most of us long before she has to battle a demented and deadly other-dimensional clown.
7. Max, The Final Girls (2015)
After accidentally entering their favorite fictional horror slasher, Camp Bloodbath, a group of teens, including our final girl, Max (Taissa Farmiga), must survive the movie in order to get back home.
I did not quite know what to expect from this movie. But I really loved this smart and funny horror comedy. It has some fun kills, does a fine job of making fun of horror movie tropes, delivers a badass final girl, and even gets elevated by a pretty emotional subplot.
It may be a comedy, but this is a film that plays a loving tribute to our favorite slashers of old, and the horror is just as awesome as you would hope for. Farmiga’s Max is no less iconic than her counterparts in other well-known horror classics.
8. Allyson, Halloween (2018)
40 years after Michael Myers returns to get his revenge on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), Michael also has to face her family, including granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak).
Allyson, like her badass grandmother, Laurie, isn’t one to back down from a fight. She is prepared to face the masked killer head-on, even if it means potentially getting killed in the process. And she continues to persevere in the face of unimaginable fear and trauma.
I know I could have just included our favorite final girl, Laurie Strode, on the list. But I love the idea of passing the torch to the new generation of fearless and unstoppable women.
9. Sarah, The Descent (2005)
After Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) loses her daughter and husband in an insane car accident, she goes with some friends on a girls’ trip. The girls decide to explore a seemingly abandoned, unknown, and unmarked cave.
What could possibly go wrong? Oh, you know, just being trapped in a cave, unable to escape, while hunted and picked off by blind monsters. It’s one of the most frightening scenarios imaginable, even before the nightmarish creatures show up. But Sarah does not allow herself to become a victim.
Sarah is absolutely a fighter, and she does not put up with any BS. Seeing her covered in blood, completely filled with rage and fed up, is truly terrifying.
This final girl doesn’t get enough love, and Women’s Month is a great time to celebrate the women who are strong, capable, and resilient — onscreen and off!
10. Grace Le Domas, Ready or Not (2019)
To end the list, let’s take a look at another recent hit.
After Grace (Samara Weaving) marries into the Le Domas family, she does not know just what she has gotten herself into. As part of their “introduction” into the new family, newlyweds are forced to play (and successfully win) a game that is picked at random. Grace has the unfortunate pleasure of picking hide-and-seek.
Sounds like a fun game, right? Except in this version, the family all have weapons and are trying to hunt down and kill Grace before sunrise.
I can see why this movie instantly became a classic. Samara Weaving does a FANTASTIC job at being this film’s final girl. And the scene at the end where she is literally the last one standing? Iconic.