In new horror-comedy The Final Girls (out Oct. 9), Nina Dobrev is a high-schooler who—along with characters played by Taissa Farmiga, Alexander Ludwig, Alia Shawkat, and Thomas Middleditch—finds herself trapped in an ’80s-era slasher film called Camp Bloodbath. So, is the ex-star of The Vampire Diaries a fan of the horror genre?
“No,” she says. “I don’t like to pay to be afraid. And for the last few years, I’ve been on a sci-fi horror television show. So, when you’re having time off, I like to watch comedies, or action movies, or things that are the opposite of what I do day-to-day. It’s like a hairdresser—when they’re styling hair all day, when they go home, the last thing they want to see is a hot tool.”
But Dobrev was a fan of terrifying her fellow Final Girls cast members, particularly Ludwig. “I do this thing called the ‘Scare Series,’” she laughs. ”I just really find joy in other people’s fear and discomfort. It started with Alexander on set. I think he was the first victim. Basically, any opportunity I had to hide behind any wall or in a dark corner, behind a curtain, I took it, and I would scare him. It was especially funny with him because he’s he’s a big guy—he’s a man—and when he screams, he’s a little girl. [Laughs] And it just made me so happy.”
Entertainment Weekly: I thought The Final Girls had a surprising amount of heart.
Nina Dobrev: One of the great things about this movie is that it does surprise you. You don’t go into it expecting to see and experience what you do. In fact, whatever expectation you might have, everyone—from what I’ve heard and from the feedback that I’ve gotten—everyone is pleasantly surprised that it’s a different movie. It’s the hardest thing for me to explain the premise of the film, accurately. There’s no way to really do it justice. It is what it is and it’s pretty special. It’s fun, it’s sad, there’s heart, there’s heartbreak, there’s action, and you’re laughing, and you’re screaming at the same time. You go through a real emotional rollercoaster from the beginning to the end.
You should be writing trailer scripts!
How did you get involved with this project?
I had a couple of months off from The Vampire Diaries. I was sent some short films by the director Todd (Strauss-Schulson) and I’m glad that I watched the short films before I read the script otherwise I would have been very confused. Imagine what you saw, onscreen, but imagine it in writing, without all the visuals. It’s a very complex, complicated thing to describe on paper. And this is a very stylistic film: the visuals, the way the shots are done, the cuts, everything is very specific. All of Todd’s shorts are similar to that. I then read the script and went, Oh my god, this is going to be amazing!
It was also exciting because I’ve never really played the mean girl before and this one is not just your stereotypical mean girl. In fact, it’s the opposite of a stereotypical mean girl. It’s a sterotypical mean girl with heart, with an explanation for why she’s mean. You love to hate her and then you ultimately love her. I think that she’s not really mean. I just think that she’s honest and blunt and she doesn’t have a censor. She’s like, ‘This guys’s gonna kill me, we need a f—ing chainsaw, we need to do this!’”
Your costars include Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Alia Shawkat—three people whose names I’m sure I have just completely mispronounced…
All of them, actually! That was impressive! [Laughs]
Regardless, that seems like a pretty fun bunch of people to be around.
Yeah, I know. I mean, not just them: Adam DeVine, Alexander Ludwig, Thomas Middleditch, Tory (N. Thompson). There wasn’t a single person that we didn’t love and that didn’t become part of our family. We spent a lot of time together and then, the time that we had off, we also chose to spend that together as well. They’re all really funny and cool.
It was also cool to be surrounded [by women]. This movie makes fun of all the tropes and the stereotypical horror flicks. What’s different about ours is that it’s about women working together, and they actually like each other, and they support each other, and they fight for each other, and prevail because of one another. I really like that. That’s very indicative of this day and age and also a reflection of how we were on set as actors too. It was a really good group of women that are funny and talented and so we all made a really good combo.
You can watch the trailer for The Final Girls below.