Final Destination, The

The best element of “The Final Destination,” the fourth installment in New Line's commercially successful horror series, is its running time, about 80 minutes including credits.

The studio has shrewdly decided not to hold advance screenings for the press, anticipating negative response, and trying to make quick cash on opening weekend (or rather opening day) before the dismissive reviews and unfavorable word-of-mouth spread around. (By the way, I may be one of the few critics who hold that the studios do not have to show their pictures to reviewers if they don't wish to; the movies are their products.  I mention that, because while I was president of the Los Angeles Film Critics, in the 1990, there were huge debates about critics being barred from advance or industry showings).

You may recall the premise, which has been rehashed in all the installments: A group of seemingly bright twentysomethings try to cheat Death and Fate, only to have Death and Fate come back for them again and again as they keep trying to escape.  When the franchise began, it was an intriguing idea to have Death cast as the villain of the piece, but alas, a decade later, the thematic novelty has worn off.

What's new in this chapter, arguably the weakest (and least necessary) from a thematic standpoint is the use of the new technology of 3-D, which offers few thrills and frills, but this novelty also wears off quickly.

This rather plotless episode (and it is an episode rather than a movie) focuses on Nick and his girlfriend Lori (Bobby Campo and Shantel VanSanten) and their friends Hunt and Janet (Nick Zano and Haley Wenn), who are all spending an exciting day at the races. But as the engines rev and the cars circle the track at top speeds, Nick has a frightening premonition of an errant screwdriver falling out of the pit and onto the track.  This starts an expected domino effect that leads to a horrendous crash, sending the cars hurtling into the packed bleachers.

Shaken, and acting out of collegial responsibility, Nick urges his friends to leave, getting them and a few others out just before his premonition becomes reality, or just before they all would have died a horrible death.

For those who need a reminder, the previous films in the series have opened with an airplane disaster, a big-rig crash and a roller coaster catastrophe, respectively. In this one, the fourth (and hopefully the last) segment, the yarn begins with a NASCAR car-race disaster before proceeding along the familiar line of disposing the characters, one by one.  Except, that the new technology allows for various body parts to get close and almost hit the viewers' faces.  Young audiences may get a kick out of it—at least while first exposed to this gimmick.

Inded, the first time you experience the 3-D is exciting.  Let me describe one good sequence that demonstrates the domino effects, namely, how the tiniest, seemingly unrelated and irrelevant piece of action leads to devastating results, affecting a large group of people.  We watch the cars as they go around before one car hits a screwdriver, which pops the tires.  As a result, the cars begin to crash, precipitating a who chain of chaotic actions and catastrophic reactions of numerous cars flying all over the track, into the pits and into the stands, with the hoods coming off and slicing people in half, engines (and other metal pieces) flying out of cars and landing on people seated in various sections of the bleachers.

However, the main problems of this “Final Destination,” which imitates another troubled franchise, “Fast and Furious,” by adding The to the title, are not the familiarity of the format and the galery of stock characters that populate it, but the lack of energy, genuine humor, visual style and, for lack of better term, real sense of fun.

David E. Ellis is not a particularly subtle or stylish director but he's shown greater talent in helming exploitation fare, such as “Final Destination 2” and the campy and cheesy “Snakes on a Plane.”  However, with this assignment, perhaps overwhelmed by the new demands of 3-D, he neglects two crucial elements, suspense and humor.


Indeed, a good deal of the nasty, wicked fun in the previous films resided in the ways that the characters fight for and ultimately lose their lives. In this, the movies encouraged and manipulated our voyeuristic instincts and primal sadism (admittedly dubious values).

But in the new film, the levels of imagination and execution (in both senses of the term) are routine.  For example, an ambulance crashes on one of the guys, while another is knocked to the ground when a bathtub suddenly falls on his head.   


“The Final Destination,” which is penned by Eric Bress (who wrote “The Butterfly Effect,” also for New Line, as well as “Final Destination 2”), goes through its expected and predicable motions in earnest.  Worse, the movie fails to take advantage of its unique context, the fact that auto racing is one of the most-viewed sporting spectacles in the U.S.  Rather disappointingly, depsite the use of 3-D, the movie lacks kinetic energy and doesn't take full advantage of the various dangers inherent in racing.




Nick – Bobby Campo
Lori – Shantel VanSanten
Hunt – Nick Zano
Janet – Haley Webb
George – Mykelti Williamson
MILF/Samantha – Krista Allen
Mechanic – Andrew Fiscella
Racist/Carter Daniels – Justin Welborn



A Warner release of a New Line Cinema presentation of a Practical Pictures/Parallel Zide production.
Produced by Craig Perry, Warren Zide.
Executive producers, Richard Brener, Walter Hamada, Sheila Hanahan Taylor.
Co-producer, Art Schaefer.
Directed by David R. Ellis.
Screenplay, Eric Bress, based on characters created by Jeffrey Reddick.
Camera, Glen MacPherson.
Editor, Mark Stevens.
Music, Brian Tyler.
Production designer, Jaymes Hinkle; art director, Scott Plauche; set decorator, Raymond Pumlia.
Costume designer, Claire Breaux.
Sound, Jeffrey Haupt; sound designer, Jon Title; supervising sound editor, Dave McMoyler; visual effects supervisor, Erik Henry
Associate producer, Tawny Ellis-Lehman.
Assistant director, James Giovannetti Jr.
Casting, David H. Rappaport, Lindsey Hayes Kroeger.


MPAA Rating: R.
Running time: 81 Minutes.