The Final Destination [Final Destination 4] (2009)

(In theaters, September 2009) By the fourth entry in this horror franchise, we already know what we’re going to get: a nihilistic string of Rube-Golbergian mechanisms of death, with a side order of dark humour.  The Final Destination may struggle to present anything distinctive, but it certainly delivers the bare minimum of what the audience is expecting.  As a piece of carnography, it’s assembled with skill and a willingness to keep things moving at a fast clip –within the confines of slick B-grade teenage horror, that’s already not too bad.  Of course, it never comes close to escaping the confines of its own expectations: The plot is the same as the first three instalments (albeit with even less justification), the nihilism is even stronger, the gore just as excessive and even when the film seems to display an attempt at wit, it never bothers going the extra step forward.  The filmmakers will want you to believe that the 3D conception of The Final Destination somehow put it apart, but aside from the requisite impalements and things-through-your-eye (non-horror 3D movies love to throw things at your face; horror 3D movies love to throw things through your face) the film is going to be just as bland on 2D-DVD.  Film geeks will spot a number of references to the other entries in the franchise (including a 3D CGI gallery of the previous three film’s “best-of” deaths, along with a nasty little coda in the same style), but little approaching real effort: even the meta-finale, taking place in a movie theatre where they’re showing a 3D movie, seldom bothers to go beyond the superficial.  The characters are bland, some deaths feel perfunctory (readers of Chuck Palahniuk’s “Guts” will chuckle at one) and the lack of evolution in the series’ mythology reinforces the creative cash-in nature of this sequel.  But don’t worry: The Final Destination may be pretentiously titled, but there will be another one in a year or two… and chances are that you can already figure how it’s going to go and how it’s going to end.

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