Over the weekend, I had a dream in which I woke up in a dark, concrete basement, handcuffed to something. Further details of the scenery remain foggy, and I’m trying not to think too hard to recollect them because I’ve read that when you recall a memory, you’re just remembering the memory of the memory, so over time you’ll drift further from reality, like you’re caught in a mendacious riptide.
Anyway, I surmised that I’d been kidnapped and was now being detained among a small group of fellow hostages. The perpetrator likewise remains unknown, but I don’t think their identity was the point. We were trapped, we faced a collective gory demise, and we needed to escape.
Most of the others met a grisly fate, but I managed to climb out of the darkness into blinding sunshine. I turned back and noticed a girl my age still captive, so I decided to go back and help her free. Unfortunately this backfired and I was again captured and restrained. The girl was slaughtered in front of me before I managed to again make some inexplicable getaway.
The first thing I did upon reentering society was call my boss to explain my absence of however many days I’d been imprisoned. I returned to work the next day, I believe still covered in blood and bruises, but hopefully even in the dream world I took a shower. My boss hurried up to me and asked me how I was doing, surprised but maybe a little relieved I was back in the office. I earnestly admitted I wasn’t feeling very OK, but not because of my time as a kidnapping victim. It was survivor’s guilt. Though I’ve always romanticized the concept of being the Final Girl (peep the URL), now that I knew how the process looked from the inside, I felt sick. It’s a title steeped in honor but also one brought on by trauma. The other girl had to die in order for me to become the “final.” Apparently my dream self had enough self-awareness to acknowledge and lament this.
Upon waking, I chalked all of this up to having watched Saw 1 and 2 recently then bought tickets to see the new Conjuring movie that evening. On the way there I thought about how strange it is that the dream didn’t even feel like a nightmare—I categorize those as having strong visual details that my mind won’t let me forget rather than a feeling—it felt more like a reflection. I wonder about Final Girl characters and how they must feel after the fight. They’re usually depicted as being conveniently Over It, institutionalized, or simply killed off in the opening scene of the sequel.
I digress. My point is that I’m back from an unintentional hiatus, inspired by one night spent playing the role. I can’t wait to start pondering characters, plot lines, tropes, and niche subgenres. I dedicate this to the girl who didn’t make it, as her fate is what keeps me up much more than the faceless villain who locked us in the basement.
About the Author
Melaina Kris is a lifelong lover of horror and the founder of The Final Girl Reviews. She lives in Chicago where she manages an architecture magazine by daylight.