I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I fell in love with slashers. Horror has always been my preferred genre, but slashers probably wormed their way into my heart some time in the late 90s. The Renaissance age of Scream was in full swing, and my morbid heart couldn’t get enough of creepy killers in masks and the determined female leads who bested them.
Having a love of everything that Grady Hendrix writes, I was thrilled when I discovered that he was writing a novel that infused the slasher sub genre with his signature raw humour and energetic storytelling. A therapy group full of kickass final girls dredging up their pasts? Bring it on.
*Disclosure: We only recommend books which we love and would read ourselves. This post contains affiliate links, as we are part of the Amazon Services LCC Associate Program, which may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you.
The Final Girl Support Group: Synopsis
Lynette Tarkington is a real life final girl…and she’s not the only one out there. Along with her fellow members, Lynette is part of a support group for sole survivors of massacres. Each of the five support group members survived their trauma, and choose to cope in different ways… some more successfully than others.
But one day, the shining star of the final girl circuit is found dead. Soon after, someone starts attacking the other final girls, including Lynette. She’ll have no choice but to come out of her shell and face her darkest fears. Final girls are a tough lot, and they stick together, no matter what horrors come their way.
The Final Girl Support Group: Pondering the Slasher
It’s not often that a horror based franchise-particularly in the slasher sub genre-is given the time or space in order to explore the trauma that their survivors must navigate once the killer is dead and the screen fades to black.
Some have tried, to varying degrees of success (see Halloween, H20 and Halloween 2018), however there’s rarely enough of an opportunity in a 90 minute sequel to properly delve into these issues more in depth. Folks want badass protagonists and creative kills, which slasher franchises know how to deliver in spades.
It’s this idea that makes The Final Girl Support Group so fascinating. What happens to the final girl, covered in blood, after the police have taken her statement and she’s been sent home? And in the cases of the novel’s characters, what happens after they’ve been through this ordeal more than once? When the sequel(s) is over, how do they cope with the remainder of their lives?
Many criticize slashers for their repeated use of themes, characters and situations. Essentially, this is a genre based on tropes, and despite many complaints from critics over the years, it’s these tropes that keep audiences coming back for more.
There’s a level of comfort that comes along with an unkillable masked psychopath, a clueless band of teens engaging in premarital sex, and the final girl. The one who makes it to the end, never gives up and greets the authorities broken and bloody before the credits roll.
The Final Girl Support Group plays on the tropes, poking fun at their regularity while also turning them on their head. It creates a highly enjoyable-and sort of meta-experience for the reader. And we horror fans love our self-aware, meta stories.
Eagled-eyed fans pour over the pages, happily picking out the nods to some of film’s biggest slasher franchises. From the characters who make up the support group to the titles of the chapters, these little nuggets make the novel that much more amusing.
Final Girl Thoughts
The Final Girl Support Group is a novel that takes all of the great elements of a slasher story and drops them into the real world, then turns things up to 11 sequel style. From the characters’ backgrounds to the snippets of evidence from each “franchise” strewn throughout the pages of the story, the core of the tale is really the support group itself.
Though the scares themselves didn’t evoke a reaction quite as visceral for me as some of Hendrix’s previous works, there’s a pace and intelligence to his writing that creates a story that’s difficult to pull yourself away from. Every final girl deserves to have her true ending, and this story delivers on several of them.
Grady Hendrix has a knack for showcasing the female perspective through horror, and The Final Girl Support Group is no exception. A novel built for both the horror lover and hater, it’s a story of survival, both past and present.
HBO thinks so as well, as the novel has been optioned as a series at the network with Charlize Theron’s production company as well as siblings Andy and Barbara Muschietti (IT Chapter 1 and 2) at the helm. Here’s to horror, and one of the greatest subgenres of all time.