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The Final Destination

Release Date: August 28, 2009


Movie of the Day for Wednesday, April 15, 2009
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147/169 Max Braden I liked the previous movie in the series for the different (almost humorous) ways in which characters met their demise, but this was like a boring episode of Fear Factor. Cheap cgi too.

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Oh lord, how I love these movies. Along with the somewhat more disturbing and thus aptly classified “Torture Porn” horror movies, the Final Destination series is a fresh, new sub-genre of the classic monster or horror films. In the Final Destination movies, a group of teenagers is always saved at the last moment by one of their own. The hero or heroine always has a last moment premonition of impending doom and convinces several potential victims to flee. After the disaster occurs, the survivors spend the rest of the terror-filled movie realizing that Death is not so easily cheated and is coming for them. One by one they meet their demise in utterly gruesome and completely outlandish and unexpected ways.

I hate to admit it, being on the backside of my 30s, but I’m a big fan of these flicks. They completely turn on its head the convention of rooting for the innocent protagonists as they are confronted by faceless Death. Most of the horror movies beginning in the late '70s had elements of the audience secretly cheering for the villain but with the Final Destination films the difference is that there is neither an evil motivation for the deaths nor any corporal representation. They occur simply because that is the will of the universal reality. In that way the audience is entirely blameless. They absolve you of any guilt while you cheer on each inventive kill, and unless the “victims” die horrific deaths the audience, (and your humble blurbist), are simply not satisfied. What is truly devilish, however, about these movies is that they create characters just likeable enough to make you feel just alittle guilty for cheering for ever more splatterific carnage (my favorite death in the entire series was the boy who managed to survive a surprisingly dangerous dentist office only to be pulpified by an industrial strength sheet of plate glass). Obviously, for the uninitiated, these moves revel in buckets of fake blood, bone and viscera and are not in the slightest for the squeamish. No, really, unless you think Last House on the Left is child’s play, these movies are not for you.

For the fourth installment, a completely new set of eye candy teenagers/meatbags are saved (temporarily) from certain death at a car racing track. One of them has a vision of a massive car crash that rains charred, metallic flaming death from above, below and all around, killing everyone in the group. And now Death is on the hunt.

Entirely new to this series, this installment was filmed in High Definition 3-D technology (please, please don’t be this series “Jaws – 3D!” Don’t suck). Apparently, they wanted to use this technology in the previous movie, but it was still somewhat unproven and expensive and so was shelved until the fourth edition.

It is also the first time that Tony Todd does not appear in the movie in some fashion. In the first two episodes he played the ghoulish yet Death-knowledgeable, victim-friendly mortician. And in the third movie he was the voice of the “Devil’s Flight” Roller Coaster as well as the voice of the Devil’s statue and the subway at the end of the movie. Capt. Kurn will be missed.

With budgets of approximately $25 million each and grosses of over $100 million for the first and the third film (the second one came in slightly under the nine figure mark) as well as robust DVD sales and rentals, these films are bargains for the studios involved.

Perhaps these movies indulge the audience’s darker impulses that stretch back to the Coliseum and beyond but only in the most tangential sense. I’m alright with paying my $10, eating some popcorn and watching Death stalk another victim. (D. James Ruccio/BOP)


Vital statistics for The Final Destination
Main Cast Shantel VanSanten, Bobby Campo, Hayley Webb
Supporting Cast Nick Zano, Krista Allen, Andy Fiscella, Mykelti Williamson, Richard T. Jones
Director David R. Ellis
Screenwriter Eric Bress
Distributor New Line Cinema
Screen Count 3,000 (Estimated)
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture


     


 
 

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