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Bobby Campo as Nick O’Bannon
Shantel VanSanten as Lori Milligan
Nick Zano as Hunt Wynorski
Haley Webb as Janet Cunningham
Mykelti Williamson as George Lanter
Directed by David Ellis
Even death can be stretched thin. As The Final Destination proves, the ubiquitous, invisible force of New Line’s profitable franchise which began nine years ago has officially run out of steam. Relying more on the gimmick (it’s in 3-D in select theaters) and less on ingenuity, this fourth outing feels more like a remake. The gory thrills may be different, yet the scenario is all too familiar. By this point, shouldn’t have greater strides been made to be progressive?
Apparently not, as writer Eric Bress (one half of the writing team who delivered the admittedly wicked and fun Final Destination 2 – which makes this entry all the more disappointing) and returning director David Ellis deliver a story that spins off from a disastrous race car event. Attending spectators Nick, Lori, Hunt and Janet are the primary players who escape unscathed thanks to Bobby’s premonition. Others who escape grisly death include security guard George, a racist redneck (The Signal‘s Justin Welborn), a MILF (Krista Allen), the mechanic named Charlie and a cowboy. It isn’t long, however, before death starts to claim them through a variety of Rube Goldberg scenarios – whether it’s by flying tire, pool drain, a tub full of water or, well, you get the pictureâ¦especially if you’ve seen the previous three entries.
What’s lacking is a narrative beat to thread this entry together with the other films. Oh, sure, the accidents from the predecessors are mentioned – when Nick and Lori Google search (no kidding) premonitions and swiftly learn about death’s design – but there could have been some creative way to work The Final Destination into the morbid pattern as the second and third films had done. Alas, the film is just a vapid Grand Guignol trip.
An amusing one, to be fair. There’s a certain glee to be had from seeing the massacre unfold in 3-D, especially when the meat and guts begin to slip, slide and careen across the screen (and there are plenty of entrails to behold, no doubt about that). Combining practical and CG effects, Ellis pulls off some grisly displays of dismemberment. He’s also deft at misdirection and one of the more memorable set-ups involves a pedicure. The 3-D is extra sugar to this junk food and without this technique, The Final Destination‘s tedium would probably be more apparent.
The cast doesn’t do much to elevate the material. They play to their stereotypes and earn little sympathy, save for Mykelti Williamson’s George, a widow and recovering alcoholic. Still, his character is so broad, it’s almost cartoonish. The film also wields a surprisingly racist edge, which makes sense for Welborn’s character, but not during a moment in a hospital when a war vet berates his Asian nurse. Far more effective comedic gags come when Allen’s MILF stuffs tampons in her childrens’ ears and we come to discover what happens when someone in death’s design attempts a suicide.
By the time The Final Destination attempts to pull off a false end (we all know it’s not finished) and barrels along to its big third act disaster, one will find the life has been completely sucked out of franchise. Too bad it goes out with a whimper rather than a bang.