Some tropes will just never die, especially in a genre so trope-heavy like horror. From creepy abandoned houses to a masked killer stalking the night, these well-loved tropes have been played straight, reconstructed, and deconstructed over the years. One, however, has always remained the scream queen of all: The Final Girl.
This is often the female main character who outlasts all the other victims of the movie. While the final girl doesn’t always survive, she is the last woman standing and does everything it takes to beat the threat she’s facing. In the 2000s, there were plenty of excellent final girls in horror movies.
Sidney Prescott — Scream 3 (2000)
By the time Scream 3 came around, Sidney Prescott had already solidified herself as one of the best horror movie final girls. While this is one of the more divisive entries into the Scream franchise, Sidney is key to the eventual reveal of Roman as the killer.
She plays a much smaller role in the movie than previously but it is ultimately her that is left to take on Ghostface. Roman is eventually taken out by Dewey but Sidney has to be commended for surviving a masked killer for the third time. Although she’s sidelined here, it’s a treat to see Sidney facing off against Ghostface again and it’s refreshing that the franchise doesn’t give in to the trope of killing off their original final girl in the sequels.
Clear Rivers — Final Destination (2000)
While Clear isn’t the main character of Final Destination, she’s the only female survivor of the movie (and even Alex is killed off-screen between sequels). Also, she’s one of the only characters to appear in more than one movie in the franchise which instantly makes her a stand-out.
Unfortunately, Clear is killed in the sequel and her death is one of the most underwhelming in the series. That being said, Clear is certainly one of the most memorable characters in this franchise due to her intelligence and how much she takes things in her stride. She is hugely likable and it’s a shame the character isn’t given a more elaborate death, or better still, kept on for more of the sequels.
Rachel Keller — The Ring (2002)
The Ring focuses on a cursed videotape that promises to kill anyone who watches it after seven days. After her niece is killed by the curse, Rachel takes it upon herself to investigate and watches the tape too.
Rachel and her young son become embroiled in the dark past of Samara who has become one of the most iconic horror villains of the 21st century. Rachel determines to uncover the truth about Samara’s past and despite the odds stacked against her, she manages to survive long enough to make it to a sequel. Although she doesn’t have to put up a physical fight like some other final girls, she goes through a terrifying ordeal and still manages to come out the other side.
Sarah Carter — The Descent (2005)
Sarah’s tragic loss at the beginning of The Descent quickly sets her up to be the final girl. She isn’t the most conventional final girl as she lets her anger get the better of her and leaves Juno to die but this is what makes her so compelling.
Despite her spiraling mental state, Sarah fights for her life and takes out several of the monstrous Crawlers in the process. Unlike some other horror movie characters, she is three-dimensional and complex. She suffers a mental break during her ordeal and begins to behave erratically which makes her far more relatable than many other final girls.
Wendy Christensen — Final Destination 3 (2006)
Wendy is another final girl from the Final Destination franchise and while she’s not as memorable as Clear, she’s certainly just as determined. After experiencing a vision of a roller coaster crash, Wendy saves her friends’ lives and must continue to do so after Death begins stalking them.
Even though most of her classmates don’t believe her theories, she is still determined to try and save them. The end of the movie suggests that Wendy and her remaining friends are also killed but she makes it long enough to make it to this climactic final scene. Although her luck does run out, Wendy is still a strong final girl.
Brenda Carter — The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Brenda and her family are pursued through the desert by mutants during this movie. Brenda is brutally assaulted and sees her sister murdered in front of her which unsurprisingly leaves her traumatized.
While she spends a lot of the movie reeling from her terrifying ordeal, Emilie de Raven’s performance ensures Brenda is a stand-out character. Towards the end of the movie, Brenda finishes off the mutant leader with a pickaxe. The character’s pain and trauma are clear to see in this scene and it’s a rewarding moment to see her get some small degree of revenge for everything she’s been through.
Ángela Vidal — REC (2007)
REC is a Spanish Horror movie that puts a new spin on the found footage and zombie genres. In the movie, Ángela and her cameraman are filming for their show where they accompany a firehouse crew on their call-outs. However, the group finds themselves locked in an apartment building and placed under quarantine as a deadly virus lurks within.
This is one of the scariest foreign horror movies ever made and Ángela is a unique final girl as she’s just doing her job when she becomes embroiled in the ordeal. The final scenes with Ángela in the penthouse are nail-biting and her being dragged away into the darkness is a horror movie ending that will stay with the viewer long after the credits roll.
Jenny Greengrass — Eden Lake (2008)
Jenny and her partner Steve journey to the English countryside for a ‘relaxing’ break but it soon becomes anything but. What starts as a petty misunderstanding with some local youths, soon escalates into a fight for survival for the couple across the woodland.
After Steve dies, it would be understandable for Jenny to give up but this only makes her more determined to survive and get the better of the youths. Jenny takes out several of the gang and manages to fight her way to safety, driving to the local town and crashing (literally) into a party. Although Jenny’s story ends with a cruel twist and it’s highly unlikely she survived, she puts up a strong fight against her attackers and the audience are rooting for her to make it out.
Kristen McKay — The Strangers (2008)
The Strangers is one of the creepiest home invasion movies and sees Kristen and James targeted by masked intruders at their secluded holiday home. A game of cat and mouse ensues between the couple and the intruders and culminates in a tense and climactic finale.
When they are finally captured, Kristen begs the intruders for answers about why they’re being targeted and one of them gives the chilling response, ‘because you were home.’ Despite being stabbed numerous times, the ending of the movie reveals Kristen is still alive but her fate isn’t explored in the sequel. The character’s reactions and responses to what is happening to her throughout the movie are relatable and make her easy to route for.
Christine Brown — Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Christine finds herself cursed and tormented by the demonic Lamia after refusing to help the elderly Mrs. Garnush. At times, Christine makes selfish and questionable decisions but this only serves to make her a more believable protagonist.
Throughout the movie, she tries everything she can to rid herself of the Lamia, even digging up the deceased Mrs. Garnush. It’s also refreshing to have a final girl who doesn’t always do the right thing. Although Christine doesn’t manage to outsmart the Lamia and meets a fiery demise at the movie’s conclusion, she’s certainly a strong final girl.
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