"Well, that was as daft as usual". Such was Mrs SWSt's verdict as the end credits rolled on The Final Destination. Seemingly tired of putting endless numbers at the end of the title, the fourth film in the franchise seems to imply a certain finality, as though things are going to come to a head in this one and we will see all sorts of things we have never seen before.
We don't, of course. That definite article at the start of the film's title is a cunning Hollywood trick to try and reassure you that this isn't simply following the same formula as the previous films, merely using a different group of actors. It is, of course.
Don't let that put you off, though because despite the lack of originality, if you enjoyed the previous Final Destination films then you will find enough to like here.
This time around, Death is cheated at a racing track when one of the spectators has a premonition and persuades a number if people to leave shortly before a major accident occurs. Once again, Death does not accept defeat so easily and contrives a series of freak accidents to claim the lives of those who should have died at the track.
If you've seen previous Final Destination films, then you will know exactly what to expect. Normally, I would despise this lazy Hollywood habit of churning out identikit sequels to make a quick buck from an in-built audience, but the Final Destination films escape this fate simply because they have never been about plot or acting, they have about bloody death.
And if this is what you are after then The Final Destination will entertain on that base level. It doesn't try to be clever, serious or challenging, it just gives fans what they want: more of the same.
In this sense, The Final Destination works well. It feels instantly comfortable; it means that the film can get on with things without all that tiresome business of plot and character development. And that's just what it does: the film has scarcely been going for 10 minutes before the fatal accident occurs.
The Final Destination knows a thing to two about pacing with a slim running time of less than 90 minutes. With a run time that short, it's impossible to become bored and the whole thing runs along at a cracking pace. In fact sometimes you feel it is a little too short (in common with many other FD films, the deaths of the middle set of victims feel a little rushed), but with this type of film it's better to run a little short than bore the audience with irrelevant padding.
The strength of the Final Destination films has, of course, always been the death sequences which usually arise from the conjunction of a hugely unlikely series of coincidences. The interest comes not from working out WHO is going to die, but rather HOW. Every on-screen item becomes a potential threat and you try and second guess the writers, although the deaths are often so imaginative and unlikely that you probably won't succeed.
True, a couple of the death sequences here are a little more predictable and steal from earlier films (whether this is an attempt to reference the earlier films or a lack if imagination is unclear). For the most part, though, they are good to watch and satisfyingly bloody. If you are at all squeamish, you really should not watch this, as the series seems to get increasingly gory as it goes on, with each film looking to beat the over-the-top bloodiness of the previous one. If, on the other hand, you possess a slightly sick sense of humour, then you will find the death sequences of The Final Destination as fun as ever.
I was a little disappointed with some of the special effects on the main racetrack accident, which have not made the transition from big to small screen particularly well and betray the fact that this was originally meant to be viewed in 3D. Thankfully, this only really applies to the ambitious main disaster and the effects are much better on the individual death sequences.
What's that? You want to know about the acting? Come off it! It's a bunch of unknowns whose job it is to look pretty and die. They do it well enough, but are of course, upstaged by the elaborate ways that Death devises to kill them. Acting is something that happens in a Final Destination film by accident. If you want acting, go and watch Chekov!
So, on the one level Mrs SWSt was absolutely correct. Of course The Final Destination is "daft". Yet (as she will also admit) it retains a sense of mischievous fun and irony that is lacking in so many horror films. The Final Destination might not have a scrap of originality, but with death sequences this barmy, who cares!
The Final Destination might not be the best film in the series, but neither is it the worst (that would be number 3 which tried to develop the plot a little too much and lost sight of what viewers really wanted). Like the rest of the series, this is a guilty pleasure that is fun to watch from time to time, but ultimately highly disposable.
The Final Destination
Director: David R Ellis
Running time: approx. 82 minutes
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013