September 3, 2009

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The Final Destination (R)
After a group of 20somethings don’t meet Death’s minimum balance, Death tacks on a finance charge of horrible gory fatality in The Final Destination, the fourth movie in the you-can’t-cheat-the-reaper horror series.

And, should you be so inclined, all those projectile-through-the-eye, guts-sucked-out-by-a-swimming-pool-pump moments can come at you in 3-D. (And kudos, movie, for originality on that whole guts-sucked-out thing.)

So Nick (Bobby Campo), his girlfriend Lori (Shantel VanSanten) and a bunch of people whose names you’re not going to bother learning are at a car race. Nick sees a horrible deadly crash that kills dozens of people including his friends and people seated around them. In a flash, he’s back in real time, pre-crash, where his vision causes him to hustle his friends out of the stadium. In the process, a few of the other would-be victims end up outside as well, including a security guard named George (Mykelti Williamson) and a hick awesomely referred to in the movie mostly as “the racist” (Justin Welborn).

The racist’s wife (Lara Grice, and that is literally what her character is called in Internet Movie Database) and another woman die when the crash Nick foresaw comes to pass. The key here is that they die slightly later than they would have — though still in the order that they would have had Nick not pulled the group out of the stadium.

Nick and Lori save us scenes and scenes of “what’s happening here” by figuring out that though they avoided death at the race, Death is still after them and it will try to take them in the order in which they would have originally died. The only way to save themselves will be to break the chain and thwart Death for good.

Or, you know, until they die properly — it’s not like they’re winning eternal life or anything.

The racist, a jerky frat-type guy, a snooty mom — these people are padding in this parade of death, the people we don’t mind seeing die in inventive and horrible ways so that the characters we “like” can have time to work out the math on the whole stopping-death thing. As with the previous movies, The Final Destination does have a sick little sense of humor about how it dispatches them. And when the intentional humor isn’t giving you a little snicker, the dialogue and the Old Navy-commercial-level acting offer up their own delights (everything Racist says is campily hilarious).

And, with enough pizza, alcohol and friends gathered around the TV, I’m sure all of this adds up to big fun. The effect in the quiet of a movie theater is not as exciting. C

Rated R for strong violent/gruesome accidents, language and a scene of sexuality. Directed by David R. Ellis and written by Eric Bress (from characters by Jeffry Reddick), The Final Destination is an hour and 22 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Warner Bros.