Final Destination, The

Reviewed By Rob Gonsalves
Posted 08/28/09 21:39:52

"The third dimension is boredom."
1 stars (Sucks)

The more I think about it, the more I favor "Final Destination 2" (2003) as perhaps the best American horror-comedy of the decade. It was a brilliant piece of Saturday-night entertainment, really; the prolonged death scenes had a kind of slapstick beauty, especially the poor bastard who won the lottery and almost died about fifty times in his kitchen before finally buying it outside in the alley.

That was the peak of the series, though; Final Destination 3 (2006) was weak sauce, and now we have The Final Destination, shown in some theaters in 3D. I'm torn: should I say that only the 3D makes it marginally worth it in which case you'll pay an extra four or five bucks for the same shitty movie with stuff flying out at you or should I advise you to Netflix it and get a lesser 3D effect at home?

Aah, don't waste your time on this either way. We have the same premise: a teenager has a premonition of an impending catastrophe here, it's an inferno at a race track and manages to get himself, his friends and a few others out of harm's way; then Death, having been cheated, picks them all off, one by one, in elaborate Rube Goldberg ways, in the order in which they would've been killed earlier. But this series has clearly run out of ideas. The deaths are tired. 3D doesn't help much the novelty is fun for about five minutes, and the racetrack sequence has some decent splashy moments. But it doesn't hold a candle to the highway mayhem at the beginning of the second film, in which we saw so many little bits of business that led inexorably to disaster I still remember the detail of the water bottle rolling underneath a woman's brake.

What's surprising is that The Final Destination shares a director (David R. Ellis) and a writer (Eric Bress) with Final Destination 2; that, combined with the 3D, got my hopes up a little. Maybe, just maybe, this franchise would go out with a spectacular Viking funeral. But Ellis and Bress just seem dispirited to be regressing. They did this stuff as perfectly as it could be done six years ago; now here they are again, going through the motions. It doesn't help that the quartet of kids this time are the most boring group of survivors in any of the films.

Listen: I went to see this thing opening night. When you go to a horror flick on the first Friday night, you know what you're getting: a hooting, hollering audience if you're lucky, and if the movie is wild enough to light a fire under their asses. The crowd I sat with, except for an effusive young gentleman sitting to my right ("Aw shit, that nigga gonna die," he kept saying, amusing me more than the screenplay did), was quietly unimpressed most of the time. There's a fiery cataclysm in a movie theater, but that gets taken back it's only another premonition, and now we have to watch the boring lead try to avert the apocalypse.

The movie keeps blowing opportunities. The asshole of the group, a smug golf-playing frat type, has a quickie with a topless woman, and don't the filmmakers know that if you're going to hire an actress for this sort of scene in a 3D movie, you hire an actress whose proportions, ahem, make the most of the 3D? Later, the same asshole dives into a pool and gets sucked ass-first into the drain, apparently not having read Chuck Palahniuk's notorious story "Guts." We see the bloody result outside the pool, but we don't get an underwater shot of what's left of the poor bastard in the pool.

The audience filed out quickly, maybe even shamefacedly they'd spent goddamn $12.95, and they could've gone to see "Halloween II" instead. Now that's a sad commentary, when "Halloween II" looks like the better horror movie of the weekend.

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