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The F*ckin Black Sheep: The Final Destination (2009)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

THE FINAL DESTINATION (2009)

DIRECTED BY: DAVID R. ELLIS

One low-key horror joint opening in select theaters this week is DEAD AWAKE, a sleepy thriller billed quite publicly as derived from “the creator of Final Destination” Jeffrey Reddick. Not sure that’s a very persuasive selling point, considering the OG FD came out 17 years ago. That said, we do just barely recommend giving DEAD AWAKE a look when it comes your way. But now back to Reddick. Now back to FINAL DESTINATION. Part 4!

That’s right y’all, when considering the entire FINAL DESTINATION canon, the unanimous consensus would indicate that most people think Part 4, or THE FINAL DESTINATION, is by far the worst entry of all. Poppycock! Hogwash! Balderdash! Okay, so it probably is the worst, so I can’t quite consider this an outright apologia, but I am here to proffer that THE FINAL DESTINATION isn’t so glaringly inferior to say, FINAL DESTINATION 2, FD3 or even 5 (which was at one point going to be called FI5NAL DESTINATION, you’ll recall) that it need be viewed by most to all as the ill-formed runt of the litter. I’m here to make the case part 4 is only marginally bereft compared to the other franchise entries and why it’s unfairly dismissed a F*cking Black Sheep!

Let’s start by addressing what it is that makes the FINAL DESTINATION movies so enjoyable. The profligate deaths! Aside from the original film, which did feature a very cool death-cheating premise that was well acted and directorially executed, none of the subsequent entries are all that good in terms of story and acting. They just aren’t. We tune into the lame-brained setups for one reason, to see a group of annoying youngsters get diced, flayed, sliced and waylaid in as many brutally inventive ways imaginable. That’s it.

No one is checking out FD 2 or FD 3 for the acting, that’s for damn sure. We’re not glued to the story twists or crackling dialogue. Or to invest in characters we care about. Hell, they’re often cardboard caricatures anyway, which is why FD4 doesn’t even bother to give its characters names…a flagrant omission I find amusing. We also get nothing from a vapid subtextual standpoint. No grand statements to better society are at all flirted with in these pictures. No, we simply engage with these films in order to witness and become entertained by the sick schadenfreude of grand-scale fatal disasters. That is all.

By this measure, FD4 has some genuine merit. But before delving into the particulars, we must go ahead and ask all those angry FD4 haters upfront…what the hell did you expect from the late David R. Ellis? You were really expecting some sort of mini-masterpiece from the third sequel in a horror franchise helmed by the guy who gave us CELLULAR and SNAKES ON A PLANE? Stop. You were not. Oh, you were hoping Ellis brought back the oh-so high quality of FINAL DESTINATION 2? Really though? The joke’s on you!

Now back to the deaths. One of the things about FD4 that left most viewers soured is that its primary set-piece, the racetrack sequence, actually opened the film rather than methodically building up to it (as other entries have done). This created an instant downhill scenario, where the movies load was essentially shot in full before the title card even flashed. Had the order been reversed and the movie ended on that grand-scale display of mass destruction, perhaps a more cathartic feeling of satisfaction would be felt. Perhaps!

Also, remember that in 2009, 3D was the raging fad de jure, and so many of the FD 4 fatalities were cheesily designed to accommodate this trendy tech (FRIDAY THE 13TH 3-D style). Not to excuse the overly cartoonish use of CGI violence in the film, likely post-converted to 3D, but peer pressure’s a mother*cker…everyone was doing it at the time. Hell, at least Ellis gave us that delicious money shot of the poor gal’s decapitated head and gorily eviscerated remains of such. No lame CG there!

Equally noteworthy kills, ones that were good enough to crack our Top 10 FINAL DESTINATION fatalities list back in 2011, include the admittedly corny 3D swimming pool death scene, in which a thoroughly detestable douche-rag-frat-boy-f*ck-head dives to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a sunken coin. The pool’s draining suction latches onto the kid’s ass, vacuums his body with breaking-point pressure until his vital organs are crushed, liquefied, spit out and rained down on a gaggle of onlookers. It isn’t the idea or execution as much as it is the delight that such a loathsome character got what he deserved!

The other inarguable standout death scene in FD4, one beyond reproach in my opinion, is the delectable escalator evisceration. Love that shite! Seriously, it’s as if Ellis was helming a fatality from the SAW series, as the gears of the escalator more or less play as a giant meat-grinding torture device. That poor dumb girl does all she can to avoid being snared, but no such luck. The chick’s pant leg gets caught, her body is slowly sucked into the gears until her flesh and blood is wholly masticated into a gory puddle of syrupy red goop! Okay, so her body does get cartoonishly rolled up moments later in a manner aromatic of Judge Doom in ROGER RABBIT, but that’s beside the point!

I can tell you’re still unsold, so allow for a few more favorable aspects of FD4. First off, at a mere 82 minutes, it’s the shortest film of the entire franchise. For those who posit the movie sucks, at least you don’t have to wait that long until it’s over. That’s a positive. Also, FD4 is the only flick in the franchise to feature a sex scene. Has to count for something, right? Well, if not, then consider the actual kill-count as the chief reason why FD4 is unfairly treated. With 11 fatalities, FD4 has more deaths than any other in the entire franchise. While these things don’t entirely atone for the glaring absence of Tony Todd or any reference to Alex Browning from the original, they do amount to a quality at least on par with some of the other lesser sequels.

As for tie-ins that do exist in the film, keen observers will note correlations to the number 180, which was the flight number in the original film that kicked off the whole franchise. In FD4, 180 is the number of the section the kids sit in the opening racetrack scene. The number also briefly appears across the scene at the 34 minute mark, and the number atop the bus in the final scene is also 180.

Look, is THE FINAL DESTINATION a good movie. No. But is it so quantifiably worse than some of the other entries in the franchise? Also no! Because it has the shortest run time, the highest amount of kills, two of the top 10 fatalities in the whole series, the only sex scene and a cast of kids you actually WANT to see die…the campy 3D and kitschy CG aside…yeah, FD4 is an unfairly perceived F*ckin Black Sheep!

GET THE FINAL DESTINATION ON DVD HERE

GET THE FINAL DESTINATION ON BLU-RAY HERE

Extra Tidbit: What do you think of FD4?
Source: AITH

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