You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Final Destination

Pic may finally sound the death knell for New Line's near-immortal horror franchise.

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

With an array of gory mayhem only marginally enhanced by 3-D and a plot as developed as a text message, “The Final Destination” may finally sound the death knell for New Line’s near-immortal horror franchise. Clocking in at an expedited 75 minutes (minus credits) of fatally gonzo accidents, this fourth installment opens with a stock car-race disaster and then proceeds to dispose of its various stock characters by literally tossing their body parts in the audience’s faces. Fans could boost late summer biz, but this Reaper’s prospects otherwise look grim indeed. It opens Friday Stateside, sans advance press screenings.

Whatever hints of originality lay in the series’ previous editions have been all but sucked out of this one, which focuses purely on its numerous decapitations, impalements and mutilations, and how to render them more lifelike using Fusion 3-D technology. Even the franchise’s clever take on teenagers wrestling with notions of fate and death has been eviscerated by scribe Eric Bress (“Final Destination 2,” “The Butterfly Effect”), whose mostly twentysomething protags are neither students nor gainfully employed, though they do excel at being tortured by everything from an escalator to a car wash to a swimming pool pump.

Popular on Variety

While the use of 3-D does provide some thrills, as well as a few laughs, during the pic’s opening NASCAR-set massacre — in which visionary hunk Nick (Bobby Campo) envisions friends and strangers being torn to pieces by flying car parts — the effect quickly grows tiresome, as do the deaths themselves. Once we realize the 3-D is used merely to highlight whatever tool or appliance will soon turn into a weapon, and then afterward to spew blood and/or various organs in our direction, there’s not much else to look out for.

As Nick’s premonitions (rendered in highly unrealistic CGI graphics) involving those spared by the disaster start to come true, he and g.f. Lori (Shantel VanSanten) try to save their best buddies, bleached-blond womanizer Hunt (Nick Zano) and gabbing shopaholic Janet (Haley Webb). But along with the other survivors, such as the “Racist” or “Redneck” (as he’s referred to at different times), Carter (Justin Welborn), or the “MILF,” Samantha (Krista Allen), there’s hardly anyone here worth preserving.

Helmer David R. Ellis, who directed the more effective “Final Destination 2” and the hilarious “Snakes on a Plane,” seems to be going for the off-the-wall attitude of the latter but never makes the killings funny enough; nor does he adequately unify time and place to generate suspense. He even grows lazy with regards to the rather creative death scenes that marked the other films: Here, a guy simply gets hit by an ambulance or has a bathtub fall on his head, while a woman is blindsided by a flying rock. So much for Death’s grand designs.

When their innards aren’t splattering through the screen, the actors rush through their dialogue explaining the series’ m.o. — those who escaped the initial accident are doomed to die in a predetermined order (according to Nick and Lori, who “stayed up Googling premonitions” to understand what’s happening). Such scenes play awkwardly in 3-D, the actors looking like cardboard cutouts in front of backgrounds that feel more like green screens than actual sets.

Mykelti Williamson (“24,” “CSI: NY”), who plays a widowed security guard grappling with alcoholism, manages to give the film’s one redeemable character some depth before becoming just another sausage for the meat grinder.

The Final Destination

Production: A Warner Bros. (in U.S.)/Metropolitan Filmexport (in France) 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.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color, 3-D, widescreen), 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 (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), 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. Reviewed at MK2 Bibliotheque B, Paris, Aug 26, 2009. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 82 MIN.

With: 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 WelbornWith: Stephanie Honore, Lara Grice, Jackson Walker, Phil Austin.

More Film

  • Endeavor Content Studio Logo

    Endeavor Content, Studio Exile Strike First-Look Deal With Mexican Producer Subtrama (EXCLUSIVE)

    Endeavor Content is upping its local-language game, signing a significant first look deal with Mexico City-based producer Subtrama. Endeavor enters the deal with studio Exile, a long-form English and Spanish content maker. Subtrama is behind series like Cary Fukunaga’s Netflix drama “Maniac” and films like Gael García Bernal’s “Museo.” Mauricio Katz, Manuel Alcalá, and Panorama [...]

  • Taylor Swift Variety Facetime

    How Midterm Elections Inspired Taylor Swift's New Song, 'Only the Young'

    Miss Americana was keeping another song about America in her back pocket, as it turns out. Taylor Swift didn’t just record 18 songs for last fall’s “Lover” album — a 19th, “Only the Young,” was held back and kept under wraps for the right occasion. It finds its moment in “Miss Americana,” the Lana Wilson-directed [...]

  • Bradley Cooper Nightmare Alley

    Netflix Nabs Bradley Cooper's Leonard Bernstein Drama

    Netflix will back Bradley Cooper’s upcoming drama about Leonard Bernstein, the legendary conductor and musical maestro behind “West Side Story” and “Candide,” Variety has confirmed. The film was initially set up at Paramount. It has an A-list lineup of producers, including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, and Todd Phillips. Kristie Macosko Krieger from [...]

  • The Simpsons - Disney parodies -

    Disney Mashes Up 'The Simpsons' Parodies of Disney Films, Theme Parks

    Disney has embraced some of the gentle ribbing dished out by “The Simpsons” over the years — hoping to convince more people to sign up for Disney Plus. The media conglomerate released a compilation of what it calls “the best Disney references in ‘The Simpsons,'” which is now part of the Disney empire, with past [...]

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda

    Sundance 2020: Will the Market Be Colder After Last Year's Spree?

    When it comes to big acquisition deals for independent movies, Sundance is the room where it happens, to borrow a lyric from “Hamilton.” So it’s a lucky coincidence that Lin-Manuel Miranda will be a guest at this year’s film festival. For the first time, Miranda will hit the slopes in Park City, Utah, to rub [...]

  • Oprah Russell Simmons Documentary

    Oprah Defends Decision to Exit #MeToo Doc: 'This Is Not a Victory for Russell' Simmons

    Oprah Winfrey explained her decision to step away from “On the Record,” an expose about sexual harassment in the music industry, including women who have accused mogul Russell Simmons of misconduct. The documentary, from filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, will premiere at Sundance on Jan. 25. Winfrey, who served as an executive producer and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content