‘“We all go a little mad sometimes”: Analysing the Slasher Film’s Final Boy’
The slasher genre, a sub-genre of horror, contains a multitude of common tropes and conventions, most notably the specific character types its films often display. The most significant character found within the slasher genre, aside from the hatchet-wielding killer, is that of the Final Girl, with extensive academic work and discussion available on her. However, one character remains significantly under discussed and that is the Final Boy. The Final Boy, although less common than the Final Girl, features in several films of the genre and can often bear more importance to the film than she does. Through the pointing out and breaking down of specific characteristics, and applying them to characters within the genre, this can be changed, providing a detailed understanding of the Final Boy. The Final Boy, as a character, is an elusive and underresearched one who, despite this, emerges, to varying degrees, across the history of the slasher genre. Much focus is given, rightly so, to the Final Girl who remains a character integral to the majority of slasher narratives. However, in several films containing a Final Girl, or films that do not, there is a Final Boy. This is not limited to smaller, lesser-known films, hovering on the fringe of the genre. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (Sholder, 1985) contains Jesse Walsh, an odd, troubled teenager who struggles with Freddy Krueger throughout the film, as the protagonist and one who defeats Freddy, not Lisa, the Final Girl. Lisa, although assisting in stopping Freddy, takes a back seat to Jesse who also takes the brunt of the emotional damage Freddy inflicts. Randy Meeks of the Scream franchise, uses his extensive knowledge of horror films to help Sidney defeat Ghostface and absorbs many of the traits traditionally given to a Final Girl of the genre. Even the lesser-known The Burning (Maylam, 1981) features two surviving males who, between them, display qualities reminiscent of Cropsy, the film’s resident psychopath, using this to defeat him at his own game. The Final Boy exists in multiple places across the genre, as protagonist or, at least, defeater of the killer, including key films which define the genre, demonstrating the importance of the character and the need for this study. The Final Boy will be defined by his connection to the killer, using this to defeat him at the end of the film. This defining aspect of the character makes him easy, and important, to pinpoint. His struggles with this connection, as well as the gendered and sexual complications that come with it, make the Final Boy an important character to analyse. This provides an understanding of the Final Boy as well as creating and adding to analysis of the killer’s character. The Final Boy’s connection to the killer is one which makes his battle with him much more personal than that of the Final Girl, fighting both the literal killer and the similarities they bear. The Final Boy continues to emerge as a significant character in slasher narratives and is not only a surviving male character, something not commonly associated with the genre, but one which drives the film and battles the killer on a much deeper level than the Final Girl. This importance to the narrative emphasises, and justifies, the need, and potential, for such a study on the character. The Final Boy is a key character in the slasher genre and deserves to be treated as such. His importance as a character has been understated across studies of the genre, demonstrating a clear gap in academia, as well as in general understanding of its films. This understanding can be crafted through the isolating and analysing of different characteristics and applying these to various depictions of the character, demonstrating the importance and significance of the Final Boy.