Director: David R. Ellis Release Date: 28/08/09 Link: IMDB Review by Tara Judah As is the most often the case when it comes to cinematic franchises, any installment past number three will be met with trepidation, and then likely disappointment. The Final Destination (2009), number four in the Final Destination franchise, is no exception. Beginning very much in the same vein as its predecessors it opens with a vision of an extreme accident taking the lives of many; a handful of those many then escape the event due to our protagonist’s insistence that a terrible explosion will ensue, then, one by one, Death comes for them. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no aversion to this formulaic premise and am in fact a huge fan of the first and even the second of the Final Destination films, largely due to the wonderfully elaborate, albeit farcical, nature of the death sequences. Unfortunately however, the death sequences in this fourth installment are not nearly as enjoyable to watch. Regrettably, this is due to its sufferance of excessive CGI-syndrome whereby the film tries too hard to create elaborate death sequences and thus completely abandons all other cinematic devices; character development, plot cohesion, dramatic effect and tone are a complete nonplus in this film. Careful not to call itself Final Destination 4 and instead proclaiming to be The Final Destination, the film sets itself up for, if nothing else, a massive fall. If we were to take its title literally it would be screamingly apparent that the final destination in question is a disappointing arrival at a fatalistic inevitability, “right place, right time”. Unlike the first film where seeming ‘coincidence’ allows the viewer to string together tenuous though enjoyable clues to reach a bittersweet end, The Final Destination can barely be bothered trying, providing the viewer with only a hint of such outlandish coincidence by way of venue title, ‘Death by Coffee’, an unsteady bit of scaffolding, and the replacement of ‘It’s Coming’ with a barely readable ‘It’s Here’ as scratched into the coffee table where their chats take place. Then there is the homeless man whose character is underdeveloped and underplayed so that there is in fact no eeriness to the impending deaths at all, again unlike the original in the series which has a well creepy mortician who could be read as Death, and/or Death’s helper. But it’s not only the depiction of Death that falls short of something spooky or tense, it is also the death sequences themselves, which equate to the film’s most notable let-down and thus its ultimate and unavoidable point of failure. Instead of using basic devices such as lighting and sound – shadow and film score – to help create tension, mood and tone, each death sequence involves an excessive and thus tiresome use of CGI. The death sequences are gorier yes, though the gore is most often all too obviously; bits of dead animals and/or bad prosthetics or a hell of a lot of, you guessed it, CGI. This, coupled with the fact that the film is presented in 3D does at times mean that it lapses into becoming a gimmicky piece of mere ephemera instead of focusing on being a narrative film. There is also a heavy use of pseudo-x-ray sequences that begin in the opening credits and carry through to the end of the film as a sort of framing if you will, but sadly all that they frame is the film’s inability to show anything either interesting or original. Where Final Destination (2000) was somewhat prophetic in its prefiguring of the events of 9/11, in that it features a plane crash followed by some pretty hysterical anti-terrorist fear, then provocatively suggests that Death is fatalistic, The Final Destination seems to be a bit more like a super sadistic game of cat and mouse whereby Death is the proverbial cat. Hmm. Perhaps the film’s worst crime of all is its lack of seriousness. The first film took itself seriously to the point where insanely stupendous one-liners like, “I’m never going to die” took place. Sure, it was comical but only because of its integrity, not in spite of it. Though perhaps most oddly of all is that the directors and writers share in common films 1 & 3 (directed by James Wong, screenplay by James Wong and Glen Morgan) and 2 & 4 (directed by David R. Ellis, screenplay by Eric Bress) yet, in my humble opinion, only 1&2 were any good – it seems the second time round everyone was trying to out-do each other at the expense of the final destination of their work, so to speak. I’d like to finish by positing this question; if the films are all about second chances, which The Final Destination strongly suggests they are, then maybe the answer is that we shouldn’t get any? Certainly Wong, Morgan, Ellis and Bress were undeserving.