Women In Horror Month: The Doomed Best Friend

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In the slasher genre we have the most memorable roles that come as the Final Girl. Whether they end being someone we love, or even someone we hate, they are the ones we remember. But there are particular female characters that also play an important part in a slasher film, and that is the doomed best friend. While we have the stereotypical types (aka dumb blondes), we have characters that are extremely likable, maybe even more so than the Final Girl. What does it take to make the best friend role lovable and memorable?

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Let’s start with my personal favorite best friend character Tatum Riley from Scream. Played excellently by Rose McGowan, Tatum is the character we always want for a best friend. She has your back through everything “Billy and his penis don’t deserve you,” and is always quick to jump to your defense, even when you’re not even in the picture, “Gale: Can you tell me anything?! Tatum: Yeah, you’re a real pain in the ass! Leave Sid alone!” And can definitely provide laughs: “’I’ll send you a copy’, BAM, bitch went down. ‘I’ll send you a copy’ BAM, Sid, Super Bitch! You are so cool.” Even at Stu’s party, Tatum raises hell when she sees Gale arrive at the party knowing she upsets Sidney, and she tries to ensure Billy doesn’t show up to bother her either. Finally, she is a fighter. Despite ultimately making a pretty unfortunate decision to escape the killer, Tatum puts up a fight until the end. She literally kicks Ghostface’s ass and really gains the upper hand until she…gets stuck in her fate.

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Next we have Helen in I Know What You Did Last Summer played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. From the start we can see that Helen is a pretty damn good friend. She loves to laugh and make jokes with her best friend Julie, and then when the big accident happens, she’s there doing her best to try and comfort her. A year later when Julie is in her bitchy slump mode Helen isn’t afraid to speak up and tell Julie what’s on her mind and how Julie is treating her. She even puts herself in danger by participating in the parade and tries to save her boyfriend Barry during his attack and ultimate murder. As the same with Tatum, Helen doesn’t go down without a fight, in the long run she’s really the only character in the whole film to actually fight the killer the best she can, but fails.

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Annie Brackett played by Danielle Harris also makes it to the list of the best of the best friends. Yes, I mean Rob Zombie’s remake. As much as Nancy Loomis provided great laughs as Annie in the original film, Zombie’s depiction of Annie provides a stronger character in the end. Harris still provides the quirky humor that Loomis had in the original film, but we see an innocence to her character when things take a terrifying turn. Even when very near death, Annie does what she can to protect Laurie by trying to warn her of Michael’s presence approaching behind her, literally shouting her lungs out knowing she could easily end up killed by Michael right then and there. Zombie must have felt the love for Annie I did because he saved her and brought her back for the sequel. While Annie doesn’t get much time to shine here, she still manages to be a shoulder for Laurie when she needs one despite her own demons and having to deal with Laurie’s changed behavior.

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Finally there is the character Megan, played by Greta Gerwig in House of the Devil. If there ever was a character who gets robbed of screentime it’s Megan. We lose this excellent character much too early in the film. Prior to our lead girl going to the house, Megan is very hesitant on letting her go. But before this when feeling her best friend got screwed over, she doesn’t hesitate on getting even against the people who wronged her. When Samantha decides to go to the house, Megan insists on going with her and staying with her because she still doesn’t trust the family. Megan is essentially the voice of reason in the film. And obviously the voice of reason needs to die, unfortunately. Greta Gerwig is excellent as Megan and provides great comedic timing and plays Megan so realistically that we can think of someone in our own lives who is exactly like her.

So, when looking back at these characters, at least to me, to have a very solid best friend character that can easily make her more likable than the lead, they pretty much have to be strong people we would love to have as our own best friends. The kind that makes you laugh, always has your back, has a quick wit, think realistically in situations, calls you out on your bullshit, and is not afraid to put up a fight. These are just a few examples of great best friend characters, but there are plenty more memorable ones along with our incredibly shitty or annoying ones. And that’s what makes best friends notable characters in horror.

–Cody Landman