Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Final Girl vs. The Equalizer, two films that feature young it-girls in exhilarating action-thrillers as determined heroines.
PremiseFinal Girl is a clear homage to slasher films of the ’70s and ’80s, where the term “final girl” was coined to mean the last woman or girl to confront and defeat a killer. The indie film centers around the “final girl” (Abigail Breslin) as she is pursued by a pack of psychopathic teenage boys who find pleasure in killing blonde girls for sport. Little do the boys know, though, is that she is an assassin-in-training with a fondness for utilizing axes and nooses to her advantage. Meanwhile, The Equalizer focuses on an uber-lethal gent (played by Denzel Washington) who comes out of “retirement”—aka faking his own death—as a black ops commando to rescue a young woman (Chloë Grace Moretz) from the control of Russian gangsters. He also likes to seek revenge on those who have brutalized helpless people in the past, and proceeds to make all women swoon in the process. Obviously.Advantage: The Equalizer
TalentYoung and upcoming talent dominates the roster of Final Girl, including Ms. Breslin and teen-movie sweethearts Alexander Ludwig and Cameron Bright. We’ve been fans of Breslin ever since her adorable Oscar-nominated role in Little Miss Sunshine, and seeing her as a seductive, bleach-blonde assassin is quite a welcoming change. Denzel (is his last name even necessary?), though, is the personification of a leading man, with the leather boot-clad wunderkid Moretz right by his side, as well as industry insiders Melissa Leo and Marton Csokas. We’ll choose experience over age this time around.Advantage: The Equalizer
Great AdaptationsFinal Girl is based on the story written by horror-action enthusiasts Stephen Scarlata, Alejandro Seri, and Johnny Silver, while The Equalizer is based on the popular 1980s American television series of the same name. Revamping previously aired programs is always a challenge, with comparisons to the aforementioned show almost certainly to ensue. Final Girl will benefit from a more low-key adaptation, and although the “hunting humans for sport” theme has been previously explored in culture, it still arguably has a more interesting plotline.Advantage: Final Girl
DirectorTyler Shields is making his directorial debut in Final Girl. His day job is a highly controversial photographer (he burned a $100,000 red crocodile Birkin for “art”) and he was previously a professional inline skater. His inexperience is evident, as the film’s visual style looks far too photo-centric and—dare we say—cheap-looking. Antoine Fuqua is lending his directorial chops to The Equalizer, which is excellent news, as he has a proven track record for drama and action films (some of his samplings include Brooklyn’s Finest and Olympus Has Fallen). He also directed Denzel in his Oscar-winning role in Training Day. Second time’s the charm, right?Advantage: The Equalizer
General BadasseryThe gun-toting Breslin looks cool and collected in a fitted red dress and lipstick as she formidably fights off her rich-boy attackers with well-executed kicks and punches—something right out of the Charlie’s Angels franchise. Moretz takes a secondary role to Denzel in terms of fighting (who wouldn’t?) but still manages to maintain a headstrong and heroic persona who drawls out consistently stirring one-liners; something not exactly expected if Russian gangsters are holding you captive. She also dresses her badass self well, with black bodycon dresses, red lipstick and a black shoulder-length wig with bangs. Russian inspired, indeed.Advantage: Final Girl
The VerdictWhile Final Girl will certainly be good, campy fun—with tons of handsome suited-gentlemen being attacked by a chokehold-loving Breslin to boot—the allure of a debonair Denzel and gutsy Moretz as a team in The Equalizer is just too good to pass up.Winner: The Equalizer
Trailer Face-Off runs every Thursday. For more, click here.