Here’s a question: What seemingly friendly force keeps gifting pretty twentysomethings with prophetic visions in the Final Destination movies, enabling them to oh-so-temporarily escape death? Is there some positive influence in the universe working to counteract fate? If so, why is it so incompetent at what it does? Alternately, is the Grim Reaper just fucking with these poor kids by magically granting them reprieves, then even more magically hunting them down one by one? Why does any of this happen?
Unfortunately, that’s a question The Final Destination never bothers to ask, as it goes through the rote motions established by the first three films in the franchise. Once again, a near-victim (Bobby Campo) receives a precognitive warning about a horrific accident, and gets his friends and several bystanders to safety just in time. Death, unwilling to be cheated, somehow brings unlikely strings of ordinary objects together to reduce the hapless escapees to lovingly rendered chopped, wet meat. Thanks to a quick Internet search that brings up evidence of previous Final Destination movies, Campo and friends don’t even need to engage their brains to figure out what’s going on. That leaves a lot more time for ominous music, slow concatenations of faulty machinery and spilled solvents, and explosions that (particularly for those watching the 3D version) fling shrapnel right in viewers’ faces. If the Final Destination movies teach us anything, it’s that everything around us is decaying and dangerous, and might at any moment become one piece in a monstrous Rube Goldberg execution device.
The Final Destination is one such mechanical device, churning out each new splattery accident with predictable regularity and a lot of in-your-face gory shocks, but few surprises. Its chopping-block fodder is agonizingly bland; each character has one prominent major flaw, or no personality at all. Campo’s generic CGI visions of random objects similarly lack any flavor; only the few rough stabs at R-rated humor, like the flying, flaming severed head with the goofy expression, actually provide a shot of adrenaline. As with his last theatrical outing, Snakes On A Plane, director David R. Ellis aims for the laziest, most easily satisfied thriller fans, but he even lets them down by frontloading the action, putting all the most creative kills—the one reason to attend a film like this—early on, such that the whole movie is just one increasingly dull roll downhill. The same could be said for this once-fresh franchise.