David R. Ellis
Bobby Campo - Nick O'Bannon
Shantel VanSanten - Lori Milligan
Haley Webb - Janet Cunningham
Mykelti Williamson - George Lanter
Nick Zano - Hunt Wynorski
Andrew Fiscella - Andy "The Mechanic" Kewzer
Krista Allen - Samantha "The MILF" Lane
Justin Welborn - Carter "The Redneck" Daniels
Genre - Horror/Slasher/Supernatural
Running Time - 82 Minutes
Score - 2 Howls Outta 4
In 2000, one of the freshest horror films was released in the form of FINAL DESTINATION. With a villain who can't be seen and is unstoppable, interesting characters/stereotypes, and inventive gory deaths that fans gushed over, FINAL DESTINATION was a huge hit and would undoubtedly become one of the bigger horror franchises in the modern era. Of course, we got a sequel in 2003 and another in 2006, taking the death sequences to a whole new level while causing the story to suffer a bit. Still, both films did enough to be entertaining and worth a look.
In 2009, the third sequel, THE FINAL DESTINATION, was released to theaters in 3-D [which has become the "it" thing again]. Not many people thought it would do well against HALLOWEEN 2, which was released during the same weekend, due to Zombie and HALLOWEEN's big profiles. Surprisingly, THE FINAL DESTINATION [due to its 3-D gimmick] destroyed HALLOWEEN 2 in the box office, eventually becoming one of the bigger box office successes of 2009.
While HALLOWEEN 2 was a massive disappointment on all levels, does that mean that THE FINAL DESTINATION was the better horror flick that weekend? Yeah, it was. Is THE FINAL DESTINATION a great film? No, it isn't.
Nick (Bobby Campo) and his friends (Shantel VanSanten, Nick Zano, and Haley Webb) are at the local stock car race having a great time. Even though the bleachers are breaking, the foundation is crumbling, and a few nuts and bolts are coming loose, the four of them don't think too much about it. That is until a screwdriver finds it way onto the track, causing a huge car crash that kills everyone. But this crash hasn't happened yet, as it was just played in Nick's head. Warning everyone to leave before they die, Nick, his friends, and a few other spectators leave the scene before the actually carnage occurs.
The survivors feel blessed and lucky to have cheated death. But like in the other installments of this franchise, Death doesn't play and decides to kill off these cheaters one-by-one in the order of when they were supposed to die. Can Nick stop Death's design? I don't think wearing 3-D glasses will help the guy with this one.
I watched THE FINAL DESTINATION back in early September during its second week of release in Real-D but never reviewed it. Other than the fact that I had less time for reviewing back then, the bad taste that HALLOWEEN 2 had left behind left me a bit burnt out. However, a lot of the readers of this blog have requested that I should review this one ever since its release. Why? Who in the hell knows? It's not like THE FINAL DESTINATION is even deserving of the requests its gotten. To be honest, without the 3-D gimmick, this film would be a waste of time.
The story was never this franchise's strong suit and I can accept that. However, THE FINAL DESTINATION makes me wonder if this film even had an actual screenplay. Sure, we still have the protagonist who has visions of people dying to the point where he feels he has to stop Death's design from taking its course. And we still have the insane death sequences. But other than that? Nada.
I wouldn't have minded some decent characterization for the characters. Maybe it would have helped me care more about whether they lived or died. It worked in the first one, didn't it? I mean seriously, these people KNEW they were gonna die. Yet, they continued to live their lives recklessly, not giving a shit. When that's the case, why should I give a shit? Yeah, I know people don't watch these films for great, interesting characters. But there could have been an attempt here and there wasn't. For a 3-D movie, the characters were very one-dimensional. It didn't help when some of them were named "The Redneck", "The MILF", and "The Mechanic".
The dialogue was alright, I guess. I did laugh a few times. Especially the dialogue for the Hunt character, who was probably my favorite in the entire film. While a total douche stereotype, at least he was an entertaining douche stereotype. And the characters did poke fun at themselves at times, which was okay by me. I just wish the story was stronger. It felt like a skit more than an actual film.
But who needs a story when you got insane death sequences, right? Well I think THE FINAL DESTINATION had the weakest deaths in the entire franchise. Still, they're a hoot to watch. The opening race car death sequence is the weakest opening of the bunch, but it still had some great moments. I loved the escalator death and the death at the garage that made me afraid of chain-linked fences. The pool drain death was silly, but funny. I did think the ending was really lame, which shows the producers of this franchise have finally run out of ideas. Still, it's a very gory flick and that's probably the only reason I would watch this film more than once.
The direction by FINAL DESTINATION 2's director, David R. Ellis, was good. In fact, I thought it was visually better than FINAL DESTINATION 2. I loved that it was a fast paced film [82 minutes is too short for a film like this but what can you do?] and displayed a lot of energy. The opening credits montage with the deaths from the previous installments was really cool and a nice touch. The editing was great and I loved how certain shots displayed the mean sense of humor this franchise is known for. Still, for a 3-D film, it lacked...I dunno...3-D moments? Yeah, there were pretty obvious moments of three-dimensional fun. But I was expecting a lot more. Maybe I was spoiled by the awesomeness of MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D, which I felt was a lot more fun to watch. Still, Ellis brought some style to his feature and didn't shy away from the blood and guts. He even gave us a boob shot [THANK YOU]. He directed a fun film. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The acting was a mixed bag. Bobby Campo was off and on as Nick. I didn't hate the guy but I didn't particularly care either. He was the weakest of the main protagonists in this franchise. It didn't help that his dialogue and character weren't that great. Shantel VanSanten was a bit better as the girlfriend, Lori. Nick Zano won me over as Hunt, the sex-crazed prick of the group. He had the best lines, best scenes, and probably the funniest death in the entire film. The dude lucked out here. Mykelti Williamson, of FORREST GUMP fame, gave a credible performance as George the security guard. For a shallow character, Williamson gave George more depth than he probably deserved. I liked him here. Haley Webb just annoyed me as Janet. She didn't exit quickly enough for me. And Krista Allen was definitely hot as The MILF, Samantha. I wish she were in the film more. I can never get tired of looking at her.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE CHEATING DEATH'S DESIGN FOR THE FOURTH TIME
- Hunt goes to race car events hoping to see a car crash. If Lindsay Lohan or Stevie Wonder aren't behind the wheel, chances are less than likely.
- The MILF put tampons in her kids' ears. Um yeah. Carrie White knew more about plugging it up than this woman does.
- A couple got split in two. I know they're they're each other's better half, but that's just taking it a cut above the limit.
- The redneck was pulled by the ball and chain of his tow truck, the friction causing him to catch on fire. What a flamin' drag. I hate when that happens!
- The MILF got impaled in the eye by a rock. If she was still having sex in space, living in Salem, running in slow motion on a beach, or still dating George Clooney, this would have never happened.
- The homeless guy outside the dry cleaners was offended by the idea of having a penny in his change collection. I don't blame him. He'd probably be in a nice house if his past decisions made more "cents".
God I love puns.
- Hunt, swimming for his lucky coin, got pulled into the pool's drain and came out in pieces when the pipes exploded due to pressure. Damn, that death must have sucked. Oh well... he was a Two-Face anyway.
- The cowboy got crushed by a hot tube that sat above his hospital room. Death must be a Native American.
- George got run over by a hospital van. Oh well. I'm sure there's shrimp in heaven. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich...
- People got killed watching a movie. I had no idea there was a film deadlier than GIGLI!
THE FINAL HOWL
THE FINAL DESTINATION is nothing without its 3-D gimmick and it knows it. It's the worst installment in the franchise, but still maintains an entertaining and fun quality that makes it watchable. It sucks that the story was barebones and the characters were bland, but at least the deaths are pretty gruesome [even if the CGI was hit and miss], which is why people see these films anyway. Still, I hope this is the last installment but I'm not holding my breath. Death is a vengeful bitch, so I'm sure a 5th one is on its way sometime soon.