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"THE FINAL DESTINATION"
(2009) (Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten) (R)

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QUICK TAKE:
Horror: A young man tries to warn his friends and others of their pending fates while being haunted by premonitory visions of their deaths following their unlikely survival of a race track disaster.
PLOT:
While taking in a stock car race at an aging stadium, Nick (BOBBY CAMPO) has a troubling vision regarding him, his girlfriend, Lori (SHANTEL VANSANTEN), and their friends Hunt (NICK ZANO) and Janet (HALEY WEBB). In it, a series of events combine to create a horrendous car crash on the track that then shifts into the stands, killing many spectators, including all of them.

Realizing that can't be good, Nick freaks out and creates enough of a scene that he and his friends are escorted out of the stadium by security guard, George (MYKELTI WILLIAMSON). Just then, the exact crash and growing disaster that Nick foresaw actually happens, meaning all of them -- along with racist redneck Carter (JUSTIN WELLBORN), mechanic Adam (ANDREW FISCELLA), local cowboy Jonathan (JACKSON WALKER), and mom Samantha (KRISTA ALLEN), her husband, and their two boys -- barely avoided being killed in the catastrophe.

But Death doesn't appreciate being cheated, and one by one, the various survivors start dying in sudden and often grisly ways. Once they realize that, Nick, Lori and George try to convince the others that they've been marked for death and do what they can to protect themselves.

OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

Yet the latest in a long string of horror film series that's supposedly offering up the last installment (noted by "The" preceding the usual title), the film offers more of the same that occurred in its predecessors (I know, shocking). Namely that's a bunch of young people who manage to avoid Death the first time around, only to be hunted down, toyed with like mice, and then dispatched in various grisly ways that would make Rube Goldberg proud.

The fun and guilty pleasure, if you will, of the first films was the sudden, shocking nature of those deaths, plus the suspenseful buildup of wondering when and how they'd occur, accompanied by all sorts of red herrings. Here, that's still present. Yet, it's been done so often (both before and here) that the experience ends up fairly muted, especially considering that much of that must now share screen time with the staging of all the elaborate deaths to take full advantage of the 3D effects (if not seen that way, the staging of some shots won't make sense).

Granted, they're effective at times, but never more than in a simple blood & guts (and other objects) "in your face" fashion. The result is a film series that's obviously run its course and is trying any "new" gimmick to keep fans coming back (and plunking down more money this time for the 3D version). Let's hope this truly is the final "Final Destination" (at least it's mercifully short at 80-some minutes, including credits). The film rates as a 2 out of 10.




Reviewed August 28, 2009 / Posted August 28, 2009


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