After Final Destination 3, the return of David R. Ellis to the director’s chair seemed like a welcome relief for The Final Destination, the fourth entry in the Final Destination franchise. James Wong directed the first and third, but Ellis directed the second, and it took a clever premise and turned what was once a moody dead teenager movie into a gore-comedy franchise. With an expertly directed opening car crash, the second film took special glee in killing its cast off in elaborate ways, and changed the tone into something resembling a comedy. Bobby Campo stars with Shantel VanSanten and Mykelti Williamson as accident survivors trying to beat death’s design in this effort, and the review of The Final Destination is after the jump.
The opening set piece here is a NASCAR race, where Campo’s Nick O’Bannon senses there might be trouble and flash forwards to see all the impending doom. He pulls his friends and a number of strangers out before the accident, which does occur, but shortly thereafter bad things start happening to the survivors. Nick and his girlfriend Lori Milligan (VanSanten) can see the truth of his visions, as does security guard George Lanter (Williamson), but everyone else is wary, until – of course – they get theirs from Rube Goldergian death machines, that involve multiple minor incidents leading to tragic but gory consequences.
The opening set piece is well staged, even if the ideas and beats are familiar. Ellis has his best set piece with a woman at a hair stylist, where a bunch of pieces of Hitchockian information (there’s a loose chair, a creaky fan, a slippery floor, etc.) keeps ramping up the danger and tension, and using the prison of a hair cut to elevate the tension. It’s the best bit of business in the film, though much like a similar sequence in the second film where a young man sees a dentist.
And that’s the biggest problem; we’ve seen it all before. Even with the addition of 3-D (which was likely solid theatrically but at home with the Blue and Red glasses only works occasionally and leaves much of the frame with edges), there is a sense that Ellis and company are a little bored with the whole thing. In the second film there was a great sense of building and great grotesqueries, where here there’s none of the fun characters – all the ghoulish demises feel like work.
And that’s the problem. We know what this franchise is now, and we’re here for the gore and the fun of explosive deaths, but no one seems to be enjoying what they’re doing. Much like the title, there’s just very little creativity here beyond giving you exactly what you’d expect, no more or less. Imagine being whipped by someone half-heartedly, who nasally intones “oh, oh yeah, you’ve been a bad boy.” If you’re here for a good flogging, at least do it with gusto. The mechanical feel makes it kind of unpleasant by the end, even if it’s fun in bits and spurts. Ellis can have credit for getting a woman naked in 3-D, because everyone loves that. But the film is 82 minutes long, and they seem to be stretching to fill that. But there’s no character here, and so watching a bunch of cardboard cut-outs get it has no value or sting.
Warner Brothers presents the film in both 2-D and 3-D in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1. A film like this benefits from good surround use, and this is no exception. There’s also a digital copy included. Extras include a seven-part breakdown of the death scenes (22 min.) with interviews with the makers and cast, a three-part breakdown of the Racecar crash (5 min.), and three-parter on the mall explosion at the finale (6 min.). Nine deleted scenes (7 min.) are mostly made up of different gore choices, and two alternate endings (4 min.) which also change up the gore factors. But perhaps most interesting of all is the brief featurette/sneak-peak look at the new Nightmare on Elm Street (2 min.). With comments from Jackie Earle Haley and producer Brad Fuller, the recreate a lot of the major set pieces from the original film, and hint at the make-up, which is more burn-victim realistic than the previous model.