Horror is still perceived by many as a genre that simply focuses on scares, ugly killers, and violence (that apparently gives killers ideas).
Those who don’t care much about horror, despise it for whatever reason, or simply find it pointless are unlikely to know much about the final girl trope.
The term was coined by Carol J. Clover in her 1992 book Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film.
This trope in horror (usually slashers) refers to the last girl or woman alive to confront the killer and survive.
It’s by far one of the most empowering tropes across film and has made quite a few characters iconic just by being final girls – think of Laurie Strode (Halloween), Nancy Thompson (A Nightmare on Elm Street), and Sidney Prescott (Scream), or the past decade or so, Erin Harson (You’re Next) or Grace Le Domas (Ready or Not).
Horror has always been political, probably more than any other genre in my opinion, and this trope is somewhat a part of that.
Though not without critique, it’s still a trope that continues.
Unfortunately, even with a progressive trope such as this comes a lack of racial diversity in particular.
It’s no surprise that not many BIWOC have ever been final girls, from the inception of the trope to our current climate.
Black women in particular often just survive by default alongside a white final girl (Brandy as Karla in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer), or they die because of the white final girl (Hallie in Scream 2).
While the 2010s did allow for some Black final girls like Abra Stone (Doctor Sleep) and Kris Waterson (the 2019 remake of Black Christmas), it’s not enough.
Not to mention final girls are often cisgender and straight (unless subtext or explicit text states otherwise).
That lack of diversity makes for less appealing horror movies and more redundancy that’s even less received now.
Long gone are the days when marginalised folks brush off when they don’t see themselves on screen, especially those of us who are BIPOC and belong to other marginalised communities as well.
Having so few Black final girls affirms the idea that Black women aren’t ideal survivors. At least not to Hollywood.
That the ideal survivors are white women who are conventionally pretty, thin, and often sexually innocent. Which is another problem in itself.
Rather than having yet another white woman be the face of feminism and survival – why not a Black woman or other BIWOC?
Why not allow Black (potentially queer and/or trans) women to survive ordeals outside of the real-life horrors that come with oppression on multiple levels?
Horror producers, writers, and directors have no excuse any longer when it comes to making their movies more diverse.
They don’t have a good enough excuse when making another white, cis, straight woman their final girl.
As everything moves forward and hopefully changes for the better, more and more BIWOC could be final girls – not to defend a horror movie’s lack of diversity, but to empower those they represent.