Review by Morbus Iff
“I think I know what Hell is. Hell is waking up every day, believing that the suffering you’re doing in life has meaning, that somehow if you endure it, you gain valuable lessons. The truth is, sometimes you just suffer.” I couldn’t agree more: The Final, an After Dark Horrorfest 4 selection, is Hell. And not the “cool” Hell like a Mondo, like a Cannibal, like a Nekromantik sprung on a first date. It’s the Hell of a movie that is so mediocre it’s not even entertainingly bad. It can’t be laughed at, gamed, or cajoled into an eye-rolling joke. It’s something you just stare at and sigh.
The Final follows the attempted redemption of five trod-upon kids: Audition Gal, Curly Gas Mask, Banjocrow, Unfunny Clown, and Officer Nazi. I say 5, but it’s more likely 7 or 8 since the Unfunny Clown comes back to life in some reused footage, and Banjocrow and Officer Nazi have misleading stand-ins whose only purpose is to die randomly in the surrounding woods. These 5 to 8 kids are Columbine material: always picked on, always found in the bathroom with something worth breaking, always reciting manifestos of “woe is me”. There’s goth poetry from Audition Gal, “THE TIME IS NOW!!!!!!111!” rhetoric from Curly Gas Mask, circle jerks asking God to approve their plan by NOT sending them a sign, and a whole host of other groan-inducing cliches that make you want to join in and be a bully alongside the super jocks and their snobbish girlfriends. Cos, you know, they’ve gotta be in there too or it’s not a horror movie.
Actually, that’s true: it’s not a horror movie and Curly Gas Mask makes that abundantly clear when he informs his captured tormentors that he doesn’t intend to kill anyone. The movie poster’s chalkboard states “I will not kill my classmates” and that’s a joke on us: it’s more positive affirmation than remedial confirmation. The Final is not torture porn though it wants to be: lopped off fingers don’t spray blood (or even drip), nothing is agonizing, and the only deaths are knife stabs or gun shots. There’s no sleaze either, as the Valley Girls who dress up in Spencer Gifts police uniforms for the requisite costume party never do anything even moderately alluring and similarly affirm that “[our costumes] scream we love sex, but not with [the viewer]”. Nor is this an eye-opening treatise on school society and violence: it’s merely the same poor soapboxing we’re already tired of, but the characters all go through the motions anyways, becoming convenient shills for Curly to launch into another snakeoil tirade. It doesn’t Get Better.
Every so often, something interesting shines through, but it’s only interesting because it’s in this movie, not because it’s unique, original, or follows through: an attempt to hide the face of every adult authority, the token black guy blaming the travesty on his own racial slur to get the cops involved, the fingerless girlfriend changing her mind about inflicting pain back on her boyfriend, and so on. But each of these is outweighed by the suffocating forces of suck: the next door savior is gasp... a villain!, the didactic Jigsaw voice-over ending, tension-less threatening because we know no one will die, and more.
Like the requisite “guns in a wooden crate”, The Final contains the same lamentable payload of most teen horror attempts: cliches, overacting, and cribbing from answer keys of movies long since passed. Instead of “bugging out” when “the cops!” pulled it over, it should have, like you, screamed “Dude! Discriminating viewers!” and peeled out.
Death and sleaze index
Automatically generated and alphabetized; expect disorder, but automation preferred.