Final Destination was a welcome spin on the slasher genre back in 2000 with the emphasis squarely on the how not the who. Death’s Machiavellian schemes got grander and ever more complex with the first two sequels that followed but the invention has been somewhat lost in this fourth and final (?) instalment as another group of (un)lucky folk cheat the Grim Reaper and find that he doesn’t take too kindly to people outmanoeuvring themselves from his plans.
A speedway track is the setting for one hell of a pile up, only Nick (Campo), like those before him, senses something is wrong and makes a hasty exit, friends and a handful of racing fans in tow, before the mayhem ensues. It’s not long before these fortunate survivors begin dropping like flies in particularly odd ways leading plucky young Nick, after a bit of internet research, to discover that there is a history of people predicting accidents, and that fate has a nasty surprise for him and all of the death-cheating gang.
Despite these keen detective skills Nick is quite unable to find any personality for either himself or for any of his pals and this is where the film falters. Breaking from the well-worn template was never on the cards but there is a distinct lack of invention both in the characters who are wholly one-dimensional and in the death scenes themselves which lack the spark and the humour and surprise that marked the earlier movies. That’s not to say the film isn’t totally without a sense of humour though – a racist, redneck speedway survivor finds himself at the scythe-waver’s mercy while War’s Why Can’t We Be Friends blares forth from the radio of his pick-up – and it is aware of its trashy, B-movie origins, it’s just that its attention is elsewhere.
The first movie in the series to be delivered in 3D, the deaths benefit from the extra dimensional gore with impaled skulls and explosions reaching right out towards the audience, but the film’s focus is too clearly, and shamelessly in some parts, on this aspect. Not only do tyres and debris erupt from the screen during the opening racetrack carnage but with Death on their tail two of the main characters take it upon themselves to visit their local multiplex to catch a film, in 3D! Watching a film in 3D in which the characters also watch a film in 3D, bellowing its benefits (‘I was meant to see this film,’ they exclaim) - The Final Destination is less a horror movie and more a theme park-style, feature length advert for 3D.