Talk about an awesome poster. Three badass looking nutcases with freakazoid masks on (even if two are ripped straight from “The Strangers”) standing in a school corridor with the tagline, “OLD SCHOOL BULLIES…NEW SCHOOL VENGEANCE”. Wowzah, I was up for it big time. Even after the person behind me at the screening informed their mate that a friend of theirs said the film was rubbish. “Silly billy,” I thought, “they obviously doesn’t understand or appreciate good horror.”
TURNS OUT THEY PROBABLY DO.
“The Final” was a lesson in let-down-anomics – with pretty much every area of the film’s production failing to acheive what it set out to do. After about 30 minutes of sub-par acting and awfully tedious plotting, I was no longer ‘up for it big time’ anymore. So where did it all go wrong?
Well, first let’s outline the plot. It basically surrounds a load of bullying jocks who are giving a group of ‘outsiders’ a hard time – that is until, they take horrendous revenge on all of them (but also loads of other innocent people too). This set-up is ripe for a great film – who doesn’t want to see the bullies get their commupence? However, the film decides to bypass this crowd-pleasing and possibly exploitative route, and instead opts for a ‘serious exploration’ of bullying and the teenage mind. Oh no wait it doesn’t because it’s rubbish.
Firstly, the main characters are all really annoying. Whereas you are clearly supposed to sympathise with the victims, by the time they start their revenge, they become so grating that you end up hating each and every one of them. You’ve got one of the Weasley twins who doesn’t really say or do anything, you’ve got Rose from “2 1/2 men” being even more annoying than she is in that show*, and finally you have the king of annoying idiots – Dane. One of them even wears a Nazi uniform – why? That’s not cool. Each one of the maniacs becomes a screen-sapping back-fizzing wind-up as soon as they take off their masks and begin their master class in over-under-acting. It’s all taken so bloody seriously even though it’s a completely ludicrous situation – if the subject is to be dealt with properly, it needs to be in the confines of a geniuine drama. If it’s a horror film, then it’s probably best if the tongue is loitering around the cheek area, much like it was handled in 2009’s “Tormented”.
Each shot is infused with such self-importance that it causes its endeavour to be taken seriously to become the exact opposite. It’s chock-full of supposed attempts at unquiet and pointless and laughable devices to unsettle – for example, one character consistently plays a banjo throughout many of the torture sequences. This is most likely an effort to juxtapose horrific sequences with a jovial soundtrack (which has been done thousands of better times before) but it only subtracts from the scenes rather than add to any extra layers of threat. This coupled with the amount of times people say ‘It’s time’ (for what? To leave the theatre? To have a poo? To go and watch “Bio-Dome” instead?) leads to sequence upon sequence of needless exposition which serve no purpose other than to bore and provide a few (unintended) chuckles.
As a horror film, it also falls short. It could be grouped in with the ‘torture porn’ sub-genre and is certainly being marketed that way, so why is the torture so tame and boring? Most is off-screen, and no matter what people may say, violence always shocks me more when you see it, not hear it. The worst it gets is some plastesine on someone’s face after having acid hair gel put on it or some shit.
Then, to add insult to acid-burn, the plot takes some entirely stupid turns. For example, the bad guys/good guys/whatever the hell they’re meant to be (maybe that’s the point!) set bear traps throughout the forest surrounding where they are holding the kids hostage in order to hinder any potential escapees. Luckily, those escaping always hit one yet those pursuing on quad bikes in the dark never hit any of them. LUCK-Y! The police also take AAAAAAGGEES to come – it’s just all very convenient, like when they spike the punch at a party and phew! everyone happens to drink out of the spiked punch and not, maybe finish their last drink, or not drink at all.
On the upside, it looks great and didn’t feel out of place in the cinema – a result of the above-average cinematography and the able direction. Some of the acting is also acceptable (only some though), it’s just a shame that the rest of the film wasn’t up to the same standard. Altogether however, “The Final” is entirely unremarkable in many ways. It deals with an important subject matter but doesn’t handle it properly and therefore results almost laughable – which isn’t a word which should in any way be related to bullying. I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone, but I’m sure there are (because I’ve read the reviews) people out there that like this one. So don’t let my useless opinion sway you from seeing it if you really want to. Even though it’s rubbish.
But it is.
*They’re not actually those people but they look like them. A bit. I was clutching at straws I guess.
Joey Stewart (director) / Jason Kabolati (screenplay)
CAST: Marc Donato … Dane
Jascha Washington … Kurtis
Whitney Hoy … Bridget
Justin Arnold … Bradley
Lindsay Seidel … Emily
Julin … Heather