Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Final Destination (2009)

They kind of fucked up with this one. Everybody knows it's the third entry that's supposed to be in 3D. They must have been pretty ashamed about it too because instead of calling the film Final Destination 4 or Fin4l Destin4tion or some shit they just called it The Final Destination. I believe Vin Diesel kindly donated one of the surplus "the"s from Fast and Furious. I don't know when Hollywood developed this phobia about the number 4 but I believe this is the done thing now when a film series reaches it's fourth installment. You add/subtract definite articles or you just give up and reboot the title from scratch. In the first film the title was a pun about a plane crash, it doesn't even make sense anymore.

Titles aside, I thought the idea behind the series was pretty clever. The filmmakers knew that a big appeal of slasher films was the creativity and ingenuity of the death scenes so they decided to cut out the middle man and structure the film entirely around that. Unfortunately it's clearly an idea that was never meant to sustain a franchise. With each subsequent film the series has settled into a rut that's even more formulaic than the slasher films that inspired it. Firstly there's a part where some kid has a vision about a horrible accident where they all die and freaks out, causing a group of diverse stereotypes to be ejected from the premises just in time to avoid a horrific death. Then one by one, all of the survivors suffer death by Rube Goldberg in the order they were supposed to die until the rest realise what's happening and figure out a loophole they can use to "cheat death". There's a false ending and then everybody dies because you can't escape death, motherfuckers. The end.

Some of the other films have tried to add a twist to the rules but it usually ends up a confusing clusterfuck so for this film they just said "fuck it" and played things out with as little creativity as possible. The only addition to the formula is that the main guy has psychic visions of how the next person is going to die. He doesn't know who is about to die and the visions are maddeningly vague so he has to call all his friends and shout "Stay away from water!" Not particularly helpful, I don't know why they even bothered. There's also a part where a character tries to commit suicide but fate keeps fucking things up because it wasn't his turn to die yet.

The fatal accident that kicks things off is a horrific crash at a Nascar racetrack. These kids really don't seem like the type to be attending an event like that, but whatever. Although I still think the freeway pileup in the second film does a better job at building suspense and has a better payoff, this one is pretty damn good and the 3D is put to excellent use. I was skeptical about the "Real-D" 3D gimmick at first, but it won me over when a guy gets stabbed through the back of the head with a wooden spike and it sticks out of his mouth and into the audience. It's such a good effect that they use it again later.

The deaths in this film are pretty fucking stupid even for a series that is built upon stupid deaths. All it takes is a few drops of water or a poorly aimed projectile for a machine to fatally malfunction, failsafes be damned. By this stage in the series it's clear that they aren't trying to build any tension, they are just trying to make you laugh with most ridiculous deaths they can think of and it worked for me. There's also a pretty dumb part where one of the girls finds out about the events of the previous three films by doing some research on Google. The articles state that all of the survivors died in the order they would have died in the respective accidents, but fuck knows how they would have known that. It would have been more believable if she said she Netflix'd the first three films in the series.

I liked the part at the end of the film when the main character points out a potential safety hazard to a builder on some scaffolding. It makes sense because fuck destiny, most of the deaths in these films are caused by lousy OH&S practices. There is a building site at the end of the film that has a jaw dropping disregard for safety. Huge piles of sawdust sitting right next to leaky drums of flammable chemicals. Nail guns left plugged in and switched on. Broken and defective fire alarms. The list just goes on and on and pretty much every death is like that. This series of films would make a terrific set of instructional videos for workplace safety.

I have to admit that I was entertained by this stupid film. I don't know how much longer the franchise can coast along on cruise control but I guess the Saw series has been doing that for seven entries so who knows? I think this one was pretty successful so I guess we can look forward to this series cheating death for quite some time yet.

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