Looking back on the Friday the 13th saga all these years later, only a handful of characters really stand out other than Jason Voorhees himself. Some that come to mind are Alice Hardy, the final girl from the first film, Tommy Jarvis, the kid who manages to kill Jason for real and who has an arc spanning multiple sequels, and Tina Shepard, who battles Jason using literal superpowers. But we as a horror community have severely neglected one of the great slasher heroines of all time: Ginny Field from Friday the 13th Part 2. She’s often forgotten because the movie she’s in isn’t a particularly noteworthy entry in the series, but Ginny is funny, smart, fierce, and she surpasses even Alice to become the best final girl of the franchise.
After Alice Hardy is killed off in Part 2’s completely bonkers cold open, the film leaves us searching for a new lead who is worthy of replacing her. It isn’t immediately clear who that person is until confidently pulling up in her bright red Volkswagen is Ginny Field, a girl so out of place among this collection of airheads that even the movie’s requisite “old man offering a dire warning” can’t help but do a double take. Paul, the lead counselor and Ginny’s boyfriend, immediately shames her for being late even though she has a perfectly reasonable excuse, and so in her very first scene, Ginny stands up for herself and responds to Paul’s illogical behavior with biting sarcasm and wit. Instantly, this is a person who commands the screen and who we want to spend time with.
Amy Steel beautifully portrays Ginny as an independent woman who is getting a bit sick of being looked down upon. In one early sequence, Ginny is having trouble getting her car started, so Paul walks over and starts explaining how to fix the vehicle without even considering that Ginny might have the situation under control and might know more about her own car than he does. So what does Ginny do? She waits for him to stick his head under the hood so she can turn the key and give his mansplaining ass a mouthful of soot. She then rolls the car back and seems to emulate a troll face several decades early. None of this is masterful screenwriting exactly, but it comes right after a scene of a guy pelting his girlfriend’s butt with rocks, so it’s a breath of fresh air to say the least.
Not only is Ginny not the dumb blonde archetype we might expect, but she’s actually studying to become a child psychologist. How often do we meet a slasher character whose academic pursuits are even a point of discussion and whose book smarts are exalted rather than mocked or used as an example of how boring they are? Granted, her child psychology knowledge is partially just a Chekhov’s gun, but it still serves to give our lead a degree of depth that rarely exists in the teen slasher genre.
As Friday the 13th Part 2 progresses, we encounter example after example of Ginny proving to be strong and capable, more so than most of the other final girls in this series; in one seemingly throwaway moment between scenes, Ginny completely humiliates Paul in a game of chess that leaves him perplexed and distraught, as if he genuinely never considered that he could be beaten by a girl. But Ginny is no Mary Sue, and some of her very human flaws will become apparent in the third act.
Ginny is also a rare final girl who is not a virgin. She isn’t a timid schoolgirl who is constantly perplexed by the activities of the sex-fueled teenagers around her, but at the same time, her sexuality is not exploited or even particularly relevant. There’s an early sequence in which Ginny takes off her shirt as she’s getting undressed in private, but instead of removing her bra as to satisfy the horny adolescents in the audience, she actually puts on more clothes, covering herself in a robe. Never do we see her remove any article of clothing again. Ginny is simply a normal young woman who is sexually active and unashamed of it but whose character is not defined by how much sex she is having. And somehow she exists in the Friday the 13th series.
Ginny is reasonable and compassionate too, as we find out in a scene in which she becomes one of the only protagonists in the franchise to genuinely sympathize with Pamela and Jason Voorhees. “He must have seen the whole thing happen,” she says while reflecting upon Jason’s origin. “He must have seen his mother get killed, and all just because she loved him. I mean, isn’t that what her revenge was all about? Her sense of loss, her rage at what she thought happened, her love for him…He must be out there right now crying for her return, her resurrection.” It’s easy to forget the tragedy underlining the Friday the 13th saga, especially as the series continues to devolve and becomes increasingly preposterous, but Ginny can’t help but see the humanity in this twisted tale. Of course, her reasoning is scoffed at by the drunk bros surrounding her.
This all leads us into the excellent final act of the film, during which Ginny makes almost all of the right decisions and cements herself as the series’ finest female protagonist. Ginny and Paul arrive back to the cabin at the end of a night of drinking, unaware of the fact that Jason has murdered all of their friends. A movie like this would normally draw out their cluelessness, with the couple going about their evening for a bit as we scream at them to notice that something is wrong. That doesn’t happen here because Ginny puts it together practically the moment she steps in the room. Even when she discovers a bed covered in blood, Paul is dumb enough to dismiss all of the evidence and suggest that this might be a practical joke, but Ginny is the one to insist they take this seriously.
When Jason arrives, it becomes clear that Ginny is a formidable opponent. He doesn’t even manage to take her by surprise, something that Jason is usually pretty good at. Instead, Ginny sees him coming as he steps out of the shadows, and she is able to remove herself from the situation while Paul lets his guard down in a pitch black room and ignores his girlfriend’s repeated warnings that someone is behind him. Paul is a slasher archetype whose death we root for, but Ginny is a young woman plucked from the theater audience and placed into the picture who we desperately hope survives because she’s way too good for all of this.
With Paul gone, we’re down to the Jason versus the final girl segment of the movie, and while it’s not as flashy as some of the showdowns of later sequels like The New Blood, it’s actually one of the most effective. First, Ginny runs into the bathroom and slams the door shut. She realizes her mistake right away, as there’s a window open nearby but she can’t close it without leaving the door unguarded. She very cautiously inches towards the window, and it’s because of that caution that she’s able to escape when Jason surprises her and breaks through the glass.
As we can see, Ginny makes some of the mistakes one might make in a panic, and the movie doesn’t idolize her as some sort of superwoman; in one scene, she is so scared while hiding from Jason that she pees her pants. It’s less that she’s flawless and more that she’s a fully capable person who feels grounded in our reality, which stands out in a genre full of unrealistically stupid characters and a final girl who mostly just lucks into being the last person standing. And because Ginny is as capable as she is, the deck isn’t stacked too heavily in Jason’s favor, creating some genuine suspense. We’ve got a real battle here.
Ginny runs into the kitchen, locks the door behind her, grabs a knife, climbs out the window, and makes it to her car. Jason then uses his pitchfork to cut a hole in the car roof and stick his hand through, but does Ginny sink into her seat and recoil in fear? Nope. Instead, she forcefully kicks the door so hard that Jason is sent flying out of frame and is knocked onto his goddamn back. Ginny subsequently hides in the bushes waiting for Jason to get close enough so she can jump out and kick him right in the balls. Moments later, Jason tries to lunge out of the darkness to grab Ginny, but he ends up falling flat on his face.
Ginny is so badass during this finale that Jason actually comes off as surprisingly unthreatening in a few scenes; the villain we will later come to know for his superhuman strength and seeming ability to teleport while out of frame here finds himself frantically running through the woods trying to catch up to his prey like a tired old man.
Eventually we arrive at the final confrontation in the cabin, which elevates this pretty good sequel into a great one. Ginny finds herself trapped in the room where Jason has assembled a shrine to his deceased mother, and she does what so few slasher film characters do when backed into a corner: she concocts a plan that does not involve brute force, deciding to use her book smarts to survive.
This is where all of that child psychology talk pays off: Ginny theorizes that if she dons Pamela Voorhees’ sweater, she can put Jason into a trance and get him to lower his guard. It actually works; Jason begins seeing flashes of Pamela Voorhees and stops being able to differentiate between Pamela and Ginny. With Jason placed into this hypnotic state, Ginny is actually able to get him down on his knees. That’s right: here we have a heroine who has managed to get Jason Voorhees, one of the most terrifying movie villains of all time, to kneel down in front of her.
Unfortunately, Jason becomes wise to the whole rouse when he sees the head of his actual mother sitting right there and is immediately awoken from his dreamlike state, and sadly the movie has Paul run in suddenly to save the day rather than letting Ginny handle it. Still, she’s the one who gets in the final blow, slicing into Jason with his own machete.
The game of cat and mouse has come to an end, but the movie has one more thought to leave us on. Ginny and Paul make their way back to the cabin, only for Ginny to realize that someone is outside the door. This is a character who has been running nonstop for the past 20 minutes, and she could theoretically continue to do so now, sneaking away out of a window and hoping Jason doesn’t hear her. Instead, she makes the decision to stand and fight, wanting to finish this once and for all and, in the film’s most striking image, holding up a pitchfork and nodding to Paul as to indicate, “I’m ready.” Of course, this whole thing is a fakeout, and Jason ends up jumping through the window behind Ginny, but that almost doesn’t matter because what’s important here is the idea that she stood her ground and was ready to fight like hell when backed into a corner.
Compare all of this to the character of Chris Higgins, the final girl from Friday the 13th Part 3. She has little personality to speak of and makes a frustrating number of dumb decisions during the third act, as when she tries to escape from the farmhouse but is unable to lift up a piece of wood blocking the door that she put there herself literally two minutes earlier. While Ginny’s plan for taking out Jason was clever and inventive, Chris mostly just runs away for 20 minutes and occasionally stumbles upon an object to hit Jason with. Finally, when Jason is lying defenseless, Chris decides to hang him from a rope and just wait around for him to start moving again rather than grabbing his machete and cutting his head off right there.
In the end, Ginny becomes one of the few victims of Jason Voorhees to make it through the entire Friday the 13th saga alive, something not even Alice Hardy pulled off. She’s taken away in an ambulance at the end of Part 2, and then that’s it; we never see or hear from her again. Originally, Part III was going to focus on Ginny in a psychiatric hospital, but that was scrapped when Amy Steel decided not to return. It would have been interesting to see more of Ginny and for the franchise to make her into a recurring character like Laurie Strode in the Halloween series, but maybe it’s better that she was left alone, as we can now imagine Ginny has gotten her life together and at this very moment is drinking margaritas on a beach somewhere reminiscing about that time she kicked Jason Voorhees in the balls.
For the remainder of the Friday the 13th franchise, truly memorable characters become few and far between, but Part 2 is an example of a series known for its subpar writing knocking it out of the park, and Ginny Field’s efforts should no longer go unnoticed. She deserves to be recognized as one of horror’s great heroines.