Posted by John Gholson - August 27th 2009 @ 8:59 am

Directed by David R. Ellis, 2009
Written by Eric Bress

Does the “The” added before the title, in lieu of a number four, mean that this series is dead now?  FINAL DESTINATION had the efficient idea of cutting out the middle man from slasher films, just offing its teenybopper cast members through awful, gory accidents, and skipping the whole killer thing, but the films have gotten progressively lazy.

The first attempted to tell a compelling story, the second one used the art of misdirection for maximum shock value, but the third one poorly telegraphed every death scene, and, with this fourth and latest installment, we’ve reached the point of self-parody.  Yes, the instantly forgettable cast of vanilla zeroes will escape some catastrophe in the first ten minutes of the film, then spend all of their time between each character’s death scene trying to figure out the order in which everyone will die.

THE FINAL DESTINATION manages to completely sever itself from the tale of Flight 180 (despite some in-jokes), but it hardly matters, as it forges no new ground.  Nick O’Bannon (Bobby Campo) attends a stock car race with his immensely unlikeable best friends, where he witnesses their tragic deaths in a premonition involving a crumbling stadium, condescending NASCAR fan cliches, and Krista Allen putting tampons in kids’ ears.  It’s the sorriest opening for an installment  in this series by far–poorly staged, and executed with some of the worst CG I’ve seen in a recent feature film. 

Nick (temporarily) saves his buddies’ lives, and the lives of a few of those unfortunate enough to be sitting beside him, by flipping out and leaving the race early, only to watch everyone die, one by one, in ridiculous ways.  That’s not a spoiler; that’s the same basic plot to all four of these films.  The only thing that marks the progression of this series is that the writing gets worse with each new one.  By this point, all of the dialogue feels like a burden that the movie itself doesn’t want to bear.

I’m not even sure if I would still label this franchise as horror.  THE FINAL DESTINATION is missing anything resembling suspense, surprise, or a sense of dread.  Every death is inevitable, about half of them are played for laughs, and even Tony Todd isn’t around anymore to give it some horror street cred.  Worst of all, the gore effects, pretty much the only reason you’d even go see a fourth FINAL DESTINATION movie, are uninspired and inhibited with faker-than-fake computer generated blood splatter.  Director David R. Ellis made the first sequel entertaining, punctuating a thin story with out-of-nowhere gore gags, but he seems completely unmotivated here to do anything except make a buck on an established horror brand name.

I might have been more forgiving of its overall creative bankruptcy, if THE FINAL DESTINATION”s use of 3-D was cool, but it isn’t.  The images are layered, but oddly flat (like looking into a Viewmaster) most of the time, and the death scenes simply don’t make satisfying use of the three-dimensional gimmick.  From a technical standpoint, objects that are black tend to go all shimmery and weird, and a surprising amount of the shot choices are not conducive to three-dimensionality.  It’s a waste of 3-D, providing a weak excuse to kill your time watching a movie this bland.

THE FINAL DESTINATION is the most tired installment in a tired series.  Despite some infrequent patches of dark humor, there’s still the overwhelming stink of a franchise that nobody cares about beyond the box office gross.  We’ve gotten to the point where this one remakes the first one, replacing an airplane crash with a NASCAR wreck, without even pretending to find a new or interesting way to tell its story.  Instead, creativity is replaced with a pair of Real-D glasses and a handful of “comin’atcha!” CG fireballs.

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comments are closed
  1. August 27th, 2009 | 9:36 am | #1

    So if the 3D isn’t very good, I take it there’s no justifying ~$20 on seeing it in DBOX?

  2. August 27th, 2009 | 10:29 am | #2

    I’m relieved I didn’t pay $20 to see it.

  3. adam charles
    August 27th, 2009 | 11:45 am | #3

    Damn, and I had such meager hopes.

    I’m surprised that after 4 installments they never decided to make the premonitions part of the story. They always have the premonition specifically just to make a story out of what follows, and it’s always the same. Would have been a possibly nice fresh spin to see if they tried to work in a reason for the premonitions into the plot. It might have been a stupid reason, but at least it wasn’t the exact same movie 3 times repeated.

  4. Doobler
    August 27th, 2009 | 4:15 pm | #4

    Seems like Variety agrees with you David. “plot like a text message” ha! epic fail! check it –

  5. Brian
    August 28th, 2009 | 12:45 pm | #5


  6. adam charles
    August 28th, 2009 | 12:52 pm | #6

    I think it was just a mistake of seeing David R. Ellis’ name in bold & thought he was the reviewer when in fact he’s the director. Though, it would make for an interesting read to hear David R. Ellis tear his own film shit.

  7. Brian
    August 28th, 2009 | 1:27 pm | #7

    Adam, you are such an apologist.

  8. adam charles
    August 28th, 2009 | 2:54 pm | #8

    Only for people who have Doob in their name.

  9. kyle
    September 1st, 2009 | 11:25 pm | #9

    I think that number 4 was the worst movie that I have ever seen. Give some thought before you make a thrill seeking movie, please don’t give it all away in the previews. How the movie was ever acredited is a question to me. It really makes me think about going to movies even after I’ve seen the previews.

  10. September 9th, 2009 | 7:05 pm | #10

    Brian, David’s the director.

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