Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Spoilers haunt the woods in suits!
Veronica has a mission, and she trains for it like an Olympic athlete under the gun, subjecting herself via her handler to all sorts of torture and nastiness in order to prepare fully. It turns out, ever since she was a strange little girl who lost her parents to some kind of, I’m betting, violent death, and was subsequently taken by these handler assassins for training, that Veronica has a unique constitution and will, the ability to just shut herself off and do whatever the hell is necessary in the moment.
This unique ability, for some reason I dubbed it dead-eyes, serves Veronica well through training that seems to rival CIA blacktops field operatives, conducted via a handler named William. In fact, William appears to have been the one who recruited, if you can call it that, Veronica when she was but a blank-eyed child. William is quietly insistent that Veronica experience it all, every last bit of nasty he can think of Veronica might encounter on her mission, especially since, for this one, she has to go it alone. There will be no backup, no watcher in the shadows of a hidden car in case shit gets stupid, she is on her own for real this time.
So what is the mission? There is this gang of guys in this sleepy little town, and well, these boys, they do like to get rowdy and up to shenanigans. But these guys – Shane, Nelson, Daniel, or Danny-Boy if you like, and their leader Jameson – their version of getting rowdy involves going to hunt the ultimate prey of real live human girl in the woods, and have apparently managed to get away with it about ten times by now. Somehow William knows all this, and is training Veronica to take every last one of those boys out.
Now, we pause and think about this deliciousness for a moment. The torturous training we just saw Veronica endure, it was in preparation for straight-up murdering four brash young killers in an old-timey 60’s-style woods at night setup? Oh, that’s so cool. We know from watching Veronica go through it that the combo drug William subjected her to will mighty affect those assholes, if she can but get them to drink it. And sure, seeing her flinch but gamely fake a girly crack at baseball whack-a-mailbox didn’t inspire confidence, but then again, isn’t that the idea? Who would ever expect pretty little Veronica, in her scarlet lipstick and nipples getting harder by the minute dress not really right for outdoors, those inappropriate heels and her frightened screams? We know better, and it is glorious when she turns on her attackers with this cold fury, a trained weapon from her feet to her quick-thinking brain, capable of getting that mission done.
We are treated, in a very Spartan manner, to brief backstories for each boy, enough to make the possibility of him being involved in this a more real and likely option. Danny-Boy is wild-eyed and prone to zany outbursts of laughter, Nelson has very Bates-like issues with his own mother, Shane has serious girlfriend troubles, and Jameson, well, he’s the leader so it’s quite likely this was all his idea in the first place. It’s a happy Horror treat to see Ludwig play an unabashed Manson-like character, a far cry from his ongoing claim to fame as Ragnar’s eldest son Bjorn in the tv show Vikings. And speaking of Horror, yes you do also recognize Cameron Bright as Shane, from other places like X-Men, Ultraviolet, and even the entire Twilight series.
But inevitably the stars of the movie are Abigail Breslin as Veronica and her Wes Bentley as her handler William. No mention is ever made of how William got this job, or where he gets the information about these targets he selects for Veronica, or even why William decided to continue this profession in the first place. There are brief moments of personal life here and there, but by and large, the relationship between William and Veronica is rather parental but always tinged with imminent bloodshed, like a baseball bat when there’s no game going on.
The movie is understated and simple, with lots of pretty stark black and white with some vivid scarlet splashed in when Veronica gets involved. The soundtrack is good, the sets are right out of your favorite lost-in-the-woods Horror flick, and this loving twist on the revenge trope is a great view, even more than once.
Make the run with Veronica in Final Girl on Netflix now!