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Monday
Aug312009

The Final Destination

Apparently, all it takes to make a new movie nowadays is adding or removing an article. The Fast and The Furious simply became Fast and Furious and now Final Destination has become The Final Destination. But adding "the" to the title does not a new movie make. The Final Destination is a carbon copy of the previous installments, with an underlying theme that you can't avoid death. Consequently, each movies follow the exact same story structure, from the opening scene straight to the final frame. (Spoilers!) It begins with the protagonist having a premonition that a bunch of people will die, he saves their lives because of it, they all begin to mysteriously drop one by one and then at the end, when the surviving characters think they've cheated death, they finally meet their demise. Cue the credits. The Final Destination marks the fourth time I've sat through what is essentially the exact same movie and it's wearing thin. It has some good moments, but it doesn't create a voice of its own to stand out among the previous installments.

The film begins with a group of friends at a race track. After going to the concession stand and arriving back at his seat, Nick (Bobby Campo) begins to see things flash through his head, bearing witness to events soon forthcoming where dozens of people, including him and his friends, die due to collateral damage from a wreck. Realizing that his premonition is about to become reality, he rushes him and his friends, along with a few others, outside of the stadium before the damage ensues. Thankful to be alive, they carry on with their normal lives, but they quickly notice a trend; the people who were supposed to die in that crash are now dying in puzzling ways, in the exact order Nick saw them die in his head.

The one and only reason The Final Destination exists is to capitalize on the growing popularity of 3D, though it is used here more as a last gasp of a dying franchise than the next logical step. The unique premise from the first movie became old after the second because nothing new came from it. It's like the filmmakers knew this and hoped that the 3D element would distract viewers enough to keep them from realizing that they were paying for the exact same film as the previous three. They must have also thought that this gimmick would make up for bad special effects. They were wrong.

Much like the characters themselves, everything between deaths is dispensable. The dialogue, story, relationships, drama, all of it is junk. You go to this movie to see people die in creative ways and that's perfectly fine, but even in harebrained slasher films there is a villain, something the Final Destination series has always lacked. Death is not a villain because he cannot be battled against (and probably wouldn't kill people off so elaborately). Hence, there's no real conflict here, though each film has tried desperately to make one.

With that said, the movie knows exactly what it is doing and gives the audience what they want; fancy death scenes with buckets of blood. Not content with knocking a girl's head off with a runaway car tire, the film also gives us a close-up of the aftermath, her mangled head sitting a few feet away from her lifeless body, all for the sake of pleasing the gore hounds in the audience.

And it isn't off-putting violence so many horror movies show these days because its tongue is firmly planted in its cheek, sometimes making the bloodletting humorous to watch. After the opening disaster, the main characters go to a coffee shop called Death by Caffeine. A racist character meets his demise during his attempt to set a cross on fire in a black man's yard while "Why Can't We Be Friends?" plays on the radio. A mother, angry with her children, tells them, "I've got my eye on you," before literally getting her eye all over them. Yes, this is a tasteless movie, but it knows it's tasteless and takes the advantage of self awareness to make a reasonably entertaining experience that I had a marginally good time with, though thoughts of this year's superior 3D horror film My Bloody Valentine echoed through my brain as I watched it and I couldn't shake the fact that this wasn't nearly as fun as that.

In one scene, the security guard who escaped his fate at the stadium explains that he lost his wife and child in a car accident, one he caused because he was drunk (an unnecessary dramatic turn in an otherwise goofy movie). His turn to die is coming up next and he tells the kids that he has made peace with it. "I'm ready to go," he says. At this point in the movie, so was I.

The Final Destination receives 2.5/5

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