That’s a mighty big ‘THE’
THE FINAL DESTINATION
“Rest in pieces.”
A.k.a. Final Destination 4
Director: David R. Ellis / Writer: Eric Bress / Cast: Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Haley Webb, Nick Zano, Mykelti Williamson, Krista Allen, Andrew Fiscella, Justin Welborn, Jackson Walker.
Body Count: 10 (+51)
Dire-logue: “Sorry for being blunt but… Your life’s in danger and I think you’re gonna die.”
Curtain down time for New Line’s death by…well, death franchise? The absence of a numerical suffix in favour of that big old ‘THE’ seems to suggest that the series is bowing out after nine years, four movies and half a dozen or so tie-in novels (one of which I almost had the chance to write…).
Alas, all good things come to an end. Arguably, all that was good in Final Destination-dom came to an end when the credits rolled at the end of the second movie as the third attempted a re-start with a new cast and tale of doom, only to shoot itself in the foot with an over-abundance of sadism for laughs. That said, it was still a decent flick, something that can’t be said for numero quatro, a 3D-ized experience so over-simplified that it looks as if the script were written by a group of thirteen-year-olds high on E numbers.
As per usual, things begin with a big accident and death en masse, this time occurring at a racetrack/speedway where quartet of youthful friends Nick, Lori, Janet and Hunt escape their grisly deaths after Nick has a premonition that an accident on the track will send all manner of car parts flying into the audience, sticking and squashing punters until the place begins to collapse on top of them. As in all the films, he who has the vision is last to die in it, conveniently allowing us to witness that oh-so-important order-of-death list… Along with the kids, a handful of other characters make it out for temporary further living, several of whom aren’t even allotted names that register: there’s “Racist” (as well as “Racist’s Wife”), “Cowboy” and, my favourite, “MILF/Samantha”.
A creative sequence of credits that CGI-ify deaths from previous films intercepts while the audience laugh at the frankly comical ways the “characters” were done away with at the raceway and re-adjust their 3D specs for the onslaught. People begin to die in a variety of bizarre and/or ironic ways, always gorily, sometimes with humorous trimmings, although killing off the nice soccer mom was callous and cruel, especially as her two sons were annoying and in close proximity enough to have been done away with…
In between deaths, Nick has pop-up visions of what will kill the next victim. Lori and he try to convince their friends who, of course, take no notice. The only person who believes them is Mykelti Williamson’s security guard, a widower with an alcohol problem, making him the sole “character” with any - and I mean any - information given about his life. They intervene, save a life, think they’re safe, toast to it, realise they aren’t and it all ends very strangely with some sort of second premonition that, when thwarted, proves it was an entirely meaningless effects boaster designed to pad out the minimal running time.
OK, so there’s stuff to laugh at, the car wash scene is clever and an ass is sucked out, plus there’s plenty of dire-logue: Nick tells Lori it feels as if there’s something in the room with him. Yes, Nick, your girlfriend. She’s right there, touching you… You’re talking to her. The set-ups to each death are amusing, albeit somewhat unrelaxed and rushed and the 3D supplies some additional goo to fly at the audience.
But why, in four films, has no one ever questioned what force opposes Death and dishes out these premonitions and further hints? Why has nobody tried a seance or gone to a spiritualist or a gypsy to try and break the curse? The original film may have toyed with pop-psychology theories of our mortality but with each film comes more cynicism, thanks in main to characters so underdeveloped they aren’t all afforded names, let alone backstories, parents, jobs and lives. They serve only to be cut to pieces by shrapnel.
In this sense, The Final Destination reminded me of the original Japanese Ju-On: The Grudge, a film pieced together by vignettes of the haunty-housey stuff. Instead now, we get unrelated people dying in entertaining ways punctuated by dull scenes of Nick, Lori and George talking about it. There’s no mourning, no sadness. Hell, after Hunt dies he’s never mentioned again!
At the end of it all, what sucks outweighs what’s fun, but how can you complain going into a film like this – what did I expect, Oscar-worthy acting and high drama? Well, GSCE-level acting and any drama would’ve sufficed. The CGI wasn’t that impressive, the usually creative deaths weren’t that creative and the script was pure crap. And yes, I could have done better. I imagine it’ll end up on my DVD shelf next to 1, 2 and 3 once it’s on sale in a couple of years but it’s time New Line laid this one to rest.