A group of high school outcasts wreaking elaborate vengeance on tormenting classmates.

Probably the most polished U.S. title in this year’s After Dark Horrorfest, veteran assistant/second unit director Joey Stewart’s feature directorial bow, “The Final,” has a group of high school outcasts wreaking elaborate vengeance on tormenting classmates. Pic takes itself pretty seriously, which works during the buildup, less so once it veers into torture-porn terrain. For better or worse, resulting queasy mix of horror conventions and Columbine-type exploitation is likely to win some fans via Lionsgate DVD release next month.

Five kids endlessly picked on by their suburban school’s noxious jocks and jockettes (who are a bit over-caricatured) anonymously invite those foes to a costume party on rural property recently inherited by Dane (Marc Donato). Knocked out by spiked punch, the attendees awaken chained together, their masked hosts promising they won’t be killed — but by night’s end, they’ll wish they had been. One by one, they’re subjected to harsh, gruesome punishment for prior cruelties, though of course not everything goes as planned. Leads (several former child thesps) and handling are good, though there’s some stilted dialogue and too much stagy lecturing by Dane in Jason Kabolati’s script.

The Final

Production

An After Dark Films release of an Agora Entertainment presentation in association with Final Fate Features. Produced by Jason Kabolati. Executive producers, Edward Lewis Von Hohn, Bill Randle. Directed by Joey Stewart. Screenplay, Jason Kabolati.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), David McFarland; editor, Bill Marcellus; music, Damon Criswell; production designer, Eric Whitney. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Feb. 4, 2009. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Marc Donato, Jascha Washington, Whitney Hoy, Justin Arnold, Travis Tedford, Julin, Lindsay Seidel, Mark Nutter, Hunter Garner, Eric Isenhower, Preston Flagg, Matthew Posey, Laura Ashley Samuels, Vincent Silochan, Farah White, Daniel Ross, Ryan Hayden.
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