The ‘Final Destination’ franchise is a series of films in which an individual has a premonition of a terrible accident, the person then warns the people involved and a few escape. What then follows is a series of bizarre and odd accidents resulting in death to anyone who survived the accident due to the premonition, the message being that you can’t escape death.
This is the fourth instalment in the highly successful ‘Final Destination’ franchise. The first movie, which involved Devon Sawa’s character, Alex, having a premonition about the plane he was on crashing, was pure genius on every level and, set an extremely high standard for those that followed. The second movie followed the same storyline. This time it was a girl having a premonition about a pile up on a motorway, this film, even though the opening sequence of the motorway accident was impressive and the actors were strong, was the weakest in the first three, concentrating more on gore and horrific accidents that had a sense of humour. The third movie then got us back on track, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character having a premonition of the rollercoaster ride she’s on with her friends de-railing. The opening roller-coaster disaster was as tense and scary to watch as the original movie’s plane crash and, the acting from Winstead was superb, matching the same intensity of Devon Sawa’s in the first film.
The fourth movie is written by Eric Bress and directed by David R. Ellis, both of whom also worked on ‘Final Destination 2’, which I found worrying because it was the weakest link in the franchise. Then, when director, Ellis, commented during filming that the movie would be more about gore and disaster scenes than plot I was worried that it would be awful. However, I’m a big fan of the first and third movies and thought I’d give the movie a chance, especially considering it was also in 3D. My last encounter with 3D was with the re-make of ‘My Bloody Valentine’ and was a fantastic visual experience. However, ‘Final Destination 4’ was not.
The plot is much the same as the first three in general layout. While watching a race at McKinley Speedway, college student Nick O'Bannon (Bobby Campo) has a premonition of a car crash which sends debris into the audience, crushing some spectators and resulting in the stadium partially collapsing, killing almost everyone present in the 180 section. Nick convinces his girlfriend, Lori Milligan (Shantel VanSanten), and friends Hunt Wynorski (Nick Zano) and Janet Cunnigham (Haley Webb) to leave, with the quartet being followed by a handful of others who become angry with Nick after he pushes past them to escape in his panic. Soon after the accident, several of the survivors die violently in freak accidents. Before their deaths, Nick see’s omens or clues in premonition form to how they will die, he then tries to use these sign’s to save their lives. However, like in the other movies, if someone intervenes and saves one of the survivor’s lives, death then skips them and moves onto the next person, before going full circle again.
The movie, unfortunately, as I had predicted from the writer and director was poor and definitely the weakest link in the entire series. The opening scene involving the speedway crash is boring. We all go on planes, we all go on the motorway and, most of us go on rollercoaster’s – however, not many of us go to see car racing. It’s then made worse because the scene isn’t played from a race car driver, but from the spectators point of view. Then the entire scene seems over before it started, with a few gruesome deaths and little atmosphere or tension.
The four main characters are less than spectacular in their performances to say the least, with the most interesting character being Hunt Wynorski (Nick Zano), but even he is stereotyped to the max as the nasty jock that couldn’t care less. The main character, Nick O'Bannon (Bobby Campo) just about manages to deal with his role, but there is no passion, no real fear and no conviction portrayed by any of the characters, including him. Having a male back in the lead role in a slasher movie could have made for some interesting plot devices, as it did with Devon Sawa’s character, Alex, in the original. These guys are only good for eye candy. Nick’s girlfriend, Lori (Shantel VanSanten) is just as dull, and the only actress that can muster a bit of fear and panic over the situation is friend, Janet (Haley Webb), but even she loses these emotions at a vital part of the movie, towards the end and contradicts her character’s development in the first half. If the character’s themselves aren’t scared or developed, why would we be scared for them?
The deaths are mostly grotesque, silly and boring. Where as in the other movies, falling in the shower, a car crashing or a fire etc. could all easily happen, and create fear in an audience. The death scenes in this movie are over the top and ridiculous, causing the audience to laugh or gag – but mostly laugh at the mere plausibility of the situation. The best scene involves Janet and a car wash going very wrong, the worst involves Hunt and a pool suction system. The writer obviously has no idea as to why the first movie was so successful if he thinks this is up to par.
The 3D element of the movie was okay, but nothing exceptional. In comparison to ‘My Bloody Valentine 3D’ it was boring and unimaginative, just as the film itself. It was the best element though, and if you’re going to see the movie –either see it in 3D or not at all, as there are a few interesting scenes and 3D is always fun.
There are no in depth feelings created about death or the frailty of the human body, as is expertly executed in the original. There is not even an iota of trying to give the movie a plot, by explanation of how to stop the cycle of death or by research into the other disasters, which is mentioned in one scene as a sweeping statement. Where as the second film wasn’t brilliant, at least it had good actors and interesting and tense visuals; ‘Final Destination 4’ has none of this. Therefore, it doesn’t even work as an entertaining “rollercoaster of fear.”
This movie was a huge let down for me as a fan as it didn’t even seem to be trying and the production was awful; creating a cheap quality about the entire film.
The main disaster, at the start of the movie is incredibly weak, and considering these have been the main shock scenes in the franchise, that’s a huge shame. There is a scene towards the end which attempts to become intelligent and self aware, with two of the characters going to see a 3D horror movie where the screen explodes, but this again is very poor. Plus, why would two characters scared out of their wits and surrounded by death, go to see a horror movie?
The ending was boring and predictable, and in some scenes we are shown the characters as skeletons with their bodies being mutilated by whatever it is that is killing them; and that’s what the characters are – skeletons, with no emotion or connection to the audience. The film doesn’t even work as fun, because anyone with a hint of intelligence will be spotting all of these flaws and far more.
The franchise should have either stopped at number three, on a high, or continued with a writer and director who knew what they were doing; instead of just churning out a boring piece of cinema which will only stay with the audience as long as the credits. This was a big let down in what was a very interesting and fresh take on the horror genre.