Slasher Films Give Voice to the Experience of Real Trauma Victims

If you’ve seen a slasher film you’ve almost certainly witnessed the “final girl trope.” In a film using the trope there is always a closing scene where a young, white suburban girl has triumphed over a monster or killer and lived to tell about it.

Whether or not there is a sequel, the final girl’s story doesn’t end there. There is a whole new life ahead of her but it is dominated by trauma.

We see this literally play out in Jamie Lee Curtis’ portrayal of the adult Laurie Strode in the 2018 film Halloween. It takes place 40 years after her friends were killed by Michael Myers on Halloween. In the original film Strode survives by wielding a knitting needle, a coat hanger and Myer’s own favorite weapon, a chef knife.

In the 2018 film the adult Strode lives alone and isolated in a “fortress” in the woods always concerned about Myer’s return. Viewers learn that earlier in life her daughter was taken from her as authorities believed her paranoia over Myer’s made her an unfit mother.

Researchers note that the way the original 1978 and the 2018 sequel depict Strode’s struggle, the way she is vilified or dismissed but ultimately proven right gives a space on-screen for trauma survivors to see a little of themselves.

Researchers noted that these depictions are a way into the conversation about how we treat and discuss trauma survivors and their life long struggle in real life.