The first horror movies I fell in love with were slashers.
I don’t get many genuine scares from a slasher film (although the first time I watched Halloween, it legit scared the shit out of me), so I never went to them for that. The really lazy ones can be campy fun, but the ones that rise to that level of awfulness are rare. Most slashers are blazingly mediocre, the ones people point to when they talk about how shitty horror can be as a film genre, but I still enjoy those, too.
I love slashers because their stories are reliable: a band of innocents wander into the dangerous dark and encounter the Big Bad, and the Big Bad knocks them off (hopefully creatively) one by one, until there’s only one. Our final girl. And she’s got to pull her shit together, use whatever she’s got left now that all of her friends are dead, and stop the Big Bad. Temporarily. Until the next sequel.
I fucking love this story. I can watch this shit over and over and over There’s something about the narrative mechanics of a slasher film that comforts me, that feels like home, and I’ve been going back to these stories like they’re the only well in the village.
They’re resiliency stories. Survival stories. Stories that recognize the world contains some really bad shit, and most of that bad shit is random and unpredictable. They’re Grimms for grownups, right?
But slashers have hope. Because the final girl survives. She’s bigger than the Big Bad. She’s the future on the other side of the chaos, on the other side of the darkness. She’s maybe fucked up (think of poor Sally losing her shit in the back of that pickup at the end of Chainsaw), she’s probably cut up and bruised and out of breath. She’s gonna need a doctor, but she’s alive.
And that’s so fucking satisfying, right?
Queerness is like that. It’s a resiliency story, too. We’re all out here, my queer family, a band of innocents, just bopping along. We figure out who we are — gay, bi, trans, asexual, whatever — and the world is suddenly the dangerous dark, and the Big Bad is everywhere, and we’re fighting for our lives.
The sneer of that guy at the coffee shop who calls you a faggot. The casual dagger of someone saying, “You’re not bi. That doesn’t exist!” The refused cake. The lack of employment protections. The father who kicks you out for being queer. The homeless queer kids. The queer kids who kill themselves. The bullet or the knife or the fist that kills another trans woman of color. The jokes. The slurs. The raised eyebrows. The sideways glances.
We’re all kinda final girls. Or we fucking hope we are.
Slasher films, to me, are a prayer. The Big Bad isn’t invincible. There’s a way to survive.