@rjbayley looks at AntiSocial's final girl Sam and piles up the praise...
To be a big fan of Cody Calahan’s 2013 apocalyptic Antisocial can feel like a very lonely place at times. No one I know personally has seen it, despite my insistence, and it currently holds a not at all accurate 4.4 rating on IMDB. To be fair, when trying to describe and do justice to a story that is essentially about a killer Facebook, it can be a tough sell. It is, however, a fantastic piece of modern satire on our enslavement to social media. What it also has is an awesome final girl. As this piece will concern the character’s development consider yourself warned of very heavy spoilers. Go and watch the film first (you really should) and come back.
So often in films are the character traits ‘likeable’ and ‘introverted’ diametrically opposed. Not here though, as actress Michelle Mylette is immediately charming and dare I say adorable in the role of Sam. Her introversion feels real. Cinema unfortunately often portrays introverted as synonymous with reclusive. Sam is a very real character; it’s easy to see why she has friends and she’s not at all averse to new human company, she just doesn’t need to be bellicose and belligerent in stating who she is in new circles. She’s got the qualities of a real life friend and Mylett gives it the texture to make it believable. Mylett also plays the part of a wounded woman beautifully. The initial knock she’s given isn’t over the over the top “finding the boyfriend in bed with another woman” scenario that’s so prevalent in University-set films. Thus her situation, and her reaction to it, is all the more relatable and hurtful. I can’t say enough about how well vulnerability is portrayed and also written in this film.
The script also works hard to make Sam a unique character the audience cares about. Perhaps it’s because the horror film has long eschewed the idea that the final girl has to be a sickly sweet teetotal god fearing virgin. Writers Chad Archibald and Cody Calahan have thankfully felt the freedom to imbue Sam with a real cause for concern. Sam is one of, if not the only, final girl to be pregnant. So simple but so effective, Sam is surviving the apocalypse for two people now. It’s refreshing to see. Admittedly, you don’t really see it, Mylett hardly looks like she’s carrying a baby, but having a pregnant protagonist feels like it’s been a long time coming in any genre, never mind just horror. What really makes Sam a final girl that comes from forward thinking however is the fact her pregnancy is not there to serve some plot point. She’s not carrying around the antichrist and her baby doesn’t pop out at the last second to punch a monster in the face. It’s not a theme or a metaphor, she’s simply pregnant, it’s just part of who she is at that point in time.
It does however make her actions in the final scenes even more gripping, and is all part of the build up to her Bruce Campbell/Evil Dead style transformation - and I do not make that comparison lightly. Like Campbell’s Ash, Sam quite understandably spends a lot of her initial screen time absolutely terrified by the events around her. And like Ash her confidence and ability to handle the increasingly dire situations thrown at her grows until she realises she will have to take a powertool to herself to save her own (and her baby’s) life. It’s when you see someone transformed like that, from a woman terrified at a world gone to Hell to a woman drilling into her own skull and pulling a parasitic worm out from her brain, that you feel she can do absolutely anything. It’s a powerful, empowering, and simply bad ass transformation that hits you right in the gut. In those final scenes, as the infected begin to rise once more and the music swells, there’s absolutely no one else you’d want to stand, pickaxe in hand, between the world and oblivion.
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