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The Final Destination is Close to Self-Parody, Knowing Garbage

The Final Destination
Directed by David R. Ellis
Written by Eric Bress
New Line Cinema, 2009

Believe it or not, the Final Destination series is almost a decade old now.  Each one (and this is the fourth) begins with a bit of a cheat: we see a whole bunch of our main characters die horribly in some horrific tragedy and then we find that one enlightened character has actually just had a vision, and that if this character doesn’t act, he and his friends will die.  Then, Death, also feeling cheated, decides to ramp up his efforts to kill those who got away by leading them fatefully into situations where small things turn into big things that become deadly and wipe out these cheaters one by one in the order they were supposed to go in the first place.  That’ll teach them to use their instincts for survival.

But just like all horror movies, there’s a weakness.  If the next person on Death’s list can be saved, then maybe the chain will be broken…but usually Death just skips merrily along to the next person: the entire Final Destination series is stuck in a Catch-22 where there is this idea that the chain can be broken, but really you’re just delaying your death until it’s your number again.  It’s not terribly too far off from the traditional horror arc with a masked killer: even though most horror movies allow a survivor, usually The Final Girl, the filmmakers can opt to have the resurrected killer slash her just before the end credits, or get her in the sequel.

In the 4-averse The Final Destination (joining Fast & Furious this year as a sequel having a hard time owning up to its roots), the centerpiece is a racetrack, with a NASCAR race going on.  Our foresighted hero is Nick O’Bannon (Bobby Campo) who sees a crash and the entire stands crumbling onto them.  Luckily he snaps out of it to be able to predict a few events to show he’s not crazy, so he, his girlfriend Lori Milligan (Shantel VanSanten), and friends Hunt Wynorski (Nick Zano) and Janet Cunningham (Haley Webb) get out of there, along with a few other lucky people, when the unholy craziness goes down.

The other survivors (future meat) are security guard George Lanter (Mykelti Williamson), a cartoon racist (Justin Welborn) who loses his wife and blames George, another man who loses his wife, Charlie (Andrew Fiscella), a hot mom (Krista Allen, natch), and a cowboy (Jackson Walker).  When the racist dies, Nick claims he saw clues to his death before it happened, and continues to see abstract clues for everybody and tries to warn the other survivors they may be next, all in the effort of fruitlessly breaking the chain.

The Final Destination borders on being a David Zucker film.  If the situations that were cooked up were any more outrageous, or contained some side jokes, you wouldn’t know the difference.  For instance, when hot mom Krista Allen goes to get her haircut, people find ways to spill a whole bunch of stuff, flammable things find their way towards fire, and then, the coup de grace: a fan swinging so wildly from the ceiling it’s amazing anyone would ever agree to sit underneath it.  In many ways, the Final Destination series is a comment on poor workmanship and a lack of adherence to safety standards.  I mean, why else would there be barrels upon barrels of flammable liquid sitting just behind a movie screen in a dangerous work area?  Why are these barrels of flammable death sitting here anyway?  Each one of these potential death scenes is comical, like the handlebar-mustached villain cooking up a convoluted funhouse trap where a single marble sets off a coordinated chain of events that the villain has meticulously constructed using tipping scales, strings, and catapults.

Oh yeah, the deaths are in 3D now, if you’d like to see it that way.  I saw it in the traditional 2D, and I overall enjoyed it, mainly because I believe the filmmakers know they’re making a type of crap.  Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way a must-see movie.  Probably one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in movies this year is a character change after the second act: Janet, who spends the movie frightened and actually kind of nice, totally believes that Nick can see death about to happen, becomes an incredible bitch and completely incredulous to Nick’s foresight later with no real explanation.  It’s that kind of movie, where whim and convenience trumps logic.  You have a safe day, now, y’hear?

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