31 Days of Halloween, Day 10 – The Final (2010)

The Final(2010)
It’s Jim Henson’s Torture Porn Babies! That pretty much sums up The Final, one of 2010’s selections for the After Dark Horrorfest collection. Think: Revenge of the Nerds meets Saw.

A historically generic circle of high-school outcasts band together to punish the popular bullies and mean girls that make their lives “hell.” Their words. Not mine.

They throw a mysterious costume party to lure the evil popular kids to a remote location where they dance in slow motion to bad house music and drink roofied punch.

Inspired by their favorite horror movies, the main outcasts (– bad editing keeps us from knowing how many of them there are –) don “scary” masks and grab some weapons so that their tormentors wake up to find themselves bound and shackled helplessly to the floor. They’re obviously in for an unanticipated (to them anyway) evening of Jigsaw-style lesson learning.

Like so many low-budget horror movies, there’s a cool idea begging to be released from The Final and its poorly-conceived AND executed script. It wouldn’t have taken much more than a few flourishes to give the characters personalities, but these outcasts are practically interchangeable and can’t even achieve being stereotypes. At least three of the supposedly ugly primaries would look at home in an Abercrombie and Fitch ad. One, however, can play the banjo.

Conversely, the mean kids are waaaay over-the-top and unconvincing which is bad news for a movie that expects to be taken seriously. We never get a sense of any adolescent trauma endured by the central dorks. Outside of being the target for some air-headed bitchiness, a singular scene of significant physical bullying, and a thrown milk carton, these kids just ain’t bullied enough. We all know plenty of peers who had it far worse in high school. And seriously, how many times do I have to see a milk carton used as a high-school instrument of public humiliation? It’s like the ol’ slipping-on-a-banana-peel gag; it doesn’t happen that often in the real world.

You won’t feel sorry for them as much as you’ll generally dislike them which is why we never get a good grasp on what made them go all Eli-Roth on their more popular classmates. Some of the torture and humiliation scenarios are brutal enough in theory, but they’re so poorly executed and edited that they’re completely ineffective … rendering the movie’s entire reason for being, pointless. (Interestingly, there is a sense that some important scenes are missing from the final cut.)

Better dialogue and less slap-dash cutting could have given The Final a substantial boost, but as it stands, it’s an obnoxious Heathers-meets-Hostel affair, which is not nearly as cool as it sounds. There IS one likable-as-he-is-hastily-developed “hero” who represents this movie’s single departure from convention by being black. So I guess that’s something.

Despite being just engaging enough to keep you watching, the people responsible for The Final should be held back a year.
** (out of four)

~ by Number5ive on October 10, 2011.

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