FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 6, 2019


So there I am, minding my own business, scrolling through the Netflix horror offerings, feeling my 'find something interesting' hopes leak out of all my body holes. I've seen all the classic offerings and everything that's not classic looks...well, not classic.

I admit, Stephanie (2017) seemed to be more of the same–the thumbnail was some ghosty Photoshop garbage-looking thing. The title and generic description had me figuring it'd be one of the countless takes on the Sisterhood of the Traveling Christian Fashion Nightie, even worse, a bootleg version of Annabelle. (There are a lot of those out there. I admit there's a part of me–a dark part–that wants to partake in one of them sometime...I mean, I love Dolly Dearest and what is Dolly Dearest but a terrible bootleg Chucky?) I was feeling down, reader, like I'd end up turning off Netflix no closer to a review than I was before I turned it on.

But then! *record scratch* *screeching car tires* I noticed that Stephanie features one Anna Torv. If you've seen Mindhunter or Secret City or Fringe then you know that the world is sleeping on how terrific Anna Torv is. If you've never seen Mindhunter or Secret City or Fringe then you're sleeping on how terrific Anna Torv is! Stop that! She's terrific. So terrific that I gave Stephanie a shot despite all the other signs telling me not to. SPOILER ALERT I'm glad I did.

Stephanie (Shree Crooks) is home alone, fending for herself after some sort of...viral outbreak? Invasion? Crisis? Her parents are gone, her brother's dead body is upstairs, and there's a monster in the woods. With only her stuffed turtle to talk to, she takes small pleasures where she can (she won't get in trouble for swearing with no one around) and digs into the stock of canned goods to survive, all while trying not to draw the attention of whatever's lurking outside.

Then, late one night, mom and dad come home.

They're acting a bit strange, having quiet conversations when Stephanie's not in the room. Mom has weird marks all over her abdomen. Why did they come back? Why did they leave in the first place?

Maybe you're some big smarty pants who'll have this one figured out early on. As for me, a dum-dum, I was along for the ride. Stephanie is slow to reveal its secrets, about the monsters in the woods, the monsters within, and the monsters out in the rest of the world. It's occasionally too computer, you know, particularly towards the end when we get our answers. It's almost more of a drama with horror flavoring than a straight-up horror movie, despite the fact that it's a Blumhouse flick executive produced by Bryan Bertino (hey, remember that guy?). Still, it's a beautifully shot, intimate take on an apocalyptic scenario, with strong performances from everyone in the wee-sized cast. Why, it even tugged on the ol' heartstrings at times. I'd say I was surprised by how much I liked it, especially since the description didn't wow me and it has less than zero buzz. But then again, I already knew one of life's most important lessons: Don't sleep on Anna Torv!


Rupert Cadell said...

Hey, I just wanted to drop in and say that I really enjoy your writing and I'm glad for the double dose Shocktober this year. Thanks!

I watched 'Stephanie' and thought the first 20 minutes or so was pretty compelling. But then the grownups showed up and it got a little predictable. I like Anna Torv, but I don't think she quite salvaged this one.

Stacie Ponder said...

It's definitely not great! And I guarantee that a year from now I'll see the title somewhere and I won't remember a thing about it beyond "I think it was okay?"

And thank you! Glad folks are digging this SHOCKtober madness!