Undersung Women in Horror Month Day 26: Saadia Jalalzai

To celebrate Women in Horror Month, I will be highlighting some of my favorite undersung female characters in horror films media each day this month. These posts will contain some spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movies mentioned, do yourself a solid and check them out before reading all the way through.

Today I’m celebrating Saadia Jalalzai from Slasher: Solstice. Solstice is the third season of the Canadian horror anthology series Slasher.

Although I don’t dip into horror television too much, I have enjoyed all three seasons of Slasher. I mainlined the third season on my birthday one year so I have especially fond memories of the season I have dubbed Murder Degrassi.

Before I continue, I encourage anyone who enjoys horror films to check this series out. I found the first season to be a bit shaky, but the second season is excellent. The third is pretty melodramatic but features some of the nastiest, goriest kills I have ever seen.

Saadia is our final girl in Murder Degrassi. The season follows the lives of tenants in a rundown apartment complex one year after a bizarre murder of one of their fellow residents outside the building. Many of the tenants had reason to harbor ill-will towards the victim. A year later, the tenants begin getting spree murdered over the course of twenty-four hours. 

Saadia is immediately presented in the first episode as a “pure” final girl. She is a Muslim American immigrant originally from Afghanistan. She helps a drunk white supremacist get into his apartment despite how cruel he has been to her, her family, and other residents. His daughter later assaults her at school for a xenophobic perceived slight, ripping off her hijab in the process. She seems to be one of the most generally distraught bystanders to the murders and subsequent callousness of her fellow residents.  

Saadia is similar to Laurel in the sense she is extremely groundbreaking for a final girl while simultaneously just being an everyday teenage girl. But Saadia’s kind and innocent demeanor obscure a tragic past and some questionable decisions she has made along the way. I loved seeing a Muslim American immigrant as the final girl in a slasher story, let alone one who breaks some of the final girl purity codes in unique ways. It is something that really elevated this season for me, and furthermore shows how easy it can be to do something different with the subgenre and tropes we love so much.

Hats off to Saadia for breaking ground as refreshing final girl who doesn’t always fit in the neat box of characteristics we’ve assigned to this character trope.

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