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Hollywood Fringe Review: Final Girl – The Musical

Final Girl is part real-life confessional, part musical review of the horror genre. Though sometimes awkward, the mix yields some entertaining results thanks to a multitude of songs loaded with amusing references to scary films both famous and infamous.

With her one-person show, Final Girl: The Musical, writer-performer Callie Ott invites her audience to view the real-life horrors of domestic abuse and stalking through the lens of the horror genre, with a particular emphasis on the trope of the Final Girl, the one left alive at the end of the movie to confront and hopefully defeat the unstoppable killer. The figure is most often associated with the slasher subgenre, but Ott spreads her net wider, namechecking everyone from Sigourney Weaver in Alien to Jody Foster in Silence of the Lambs. This process yields an amusing compendium of horror movie cliches and trivia, expressed through song and dance, but it also vitiates the play’s tension. Horror fans should enjoy it anyway, even if they do not find it completely satisfying.

Final Girl Musical Review: Sleeping – and singing – with the Enemy

Final Girl: The Musical begins with Ott, knife in hand, rushing on stage and breathlessly informing us that her abusive ex-boyfriend is outside, trying to get in and threatening to kill himself if she refuses to see him. Noting the similarity of her predicament to that of a Final Girl, she launches into a song about being forced into a role she would rather not play out in real life. Seeking real-world help, she dials 911 and connects with a female operator more interested in making friends than sending the police, who are probably useless at handling a domestic disturbance anyway. The two characters (Ott alternates playing both, with some of the operator’s dialogue delivered via recording) go on to hash out the details of Ott’s situation, most of which are explicated through the show’s numerous songs. Eventually the operator opts to show up in person, but can the two of them combine forces to defeat the stalker?

The chief pleasure of Final Girl: The Musical is watching Ott sing and dance her way through the numerous songs detailing her situation (accompanied by live keyboards). The catchy tunes feature lyrics loaded with clever wordplay based on horror films ranging from the famous (The Exorcist) to the infamous (The Human Centipede), so that each fan in the audience can enjoy a private game of “catch the reference” (if it were a drinking game, everyone would end up dead drunk or just dead). There are so many references that some almost get lost: Ott takes her time to note that her ex-boyfriend’s name, Damien, should have been a red flag – something most viewers will get instantly. The range of topics is impressively wide, reaching beyond genre spoofery: at one point, Ott sings about her boyfriend’s refusal to wear a condom – an early indicator of his domineering indifference to her needs, rendered with lyrics and music that miraculously transform the unpleasant experience into memorable black comedy.

This is great fun, but soon the humor dissipates the suspense. When the serious elements re-emerge, the focus is less on surviving Damien’s pursuit than on psychologically investigating why Ott’s character keeps picking abusive men. The operator suggests she formed a Trauma Bond with Damien; Ott, noting that Damien was into S&M, converts the phrase to Trauma Bondage, leading to another song.

The resolution, when it finally comes, takes place mostly off-stage (Ott sings about her friends getting her into therapy). There is no real dramatic climax regarding Damien and, hence, no real catharsis. Things just kind of work out because Ott gets over whatever was making her hookup with these losers.

Final Girl Musical Review: Conclusion
From chrysalis to butterfly, our Final Girl spreads her wings.

Final Girl: The Musical feels a little bit like a first-person confessional dressed up as a musical revue of the horror genre in order to attract an audience that might otherwise eschew a tale about suffering through an abusive relationship. Fortunately, the horror film trappings shine light on the situation: the figure of the Final Girl is, paradoxically, both a blessing and a curse – on one hand, providing a source of inspiration and, on the other hand, setting a yardstick too high to match in real life. Perhaps this is why the plays’ ending feels slightly flat: the attempt to provide a real-life conclusion cannot match the thrills of make-believe climaxes.

Still, the show ends on a (literal) happy note, with yet another great song. Final Girl may not be a great thriller, but it is a good musical.

Final Girl: The Musical (Hollywood Fringe Festival 2024)

Rating Scale

1 – Poor
2 – Mediocre
3 – Good
4 – Great
5 – Excellent

Final Girl fails to build to a climax worthy of the cinematic archetype in its title, but Ott does a great job delivering songs loaded the show into a virtual musical review of the horror genre.

Final Girl continues at Hollywood Fringe Fest with performances on June 19, 25 & 30. The venue is The Broadwater (Studio Stage) at 1078 Lillian Way in Hollywood. Get more information here.

Credits: Written & Performed by Callie Ott. Directed by Tyler Hansen. Songs arranged by Tony Gonzalez. Tracks produced by Rob Zaleski. Run time: 55 mins.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.