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The Final (2010): Torture Porn with a Message

The Final (Joey Stewart, 2010)

[note: review originally published 4Mar2011]

 

photo credit: onlinemoviesfree.com

The original, banned artwork. You can see why the MPAA had some problems with it.

Stewart, an AD on a number of successful TV shows (Wishbone, Walker: Texas Ranger, et al.), tries his hand at feature directing with The Final, which aspires to be a torture-porn film with a message but can’t quite bring either side of that “with” off correctly. Which is not to say this is necessarily a bad movie; there’s some enjoyment to be had out of it, if you can sail your way past some of the sillier moments and a few massive plot holes, but it’s not going to be on anyone’s hit parade.

 

photo credit: horrornews.net

Gas masks and leather jackets… the height of fashion!

Plot: a group of bullied students conspire to get the high school’s elite bullies trapped at their secluded after-prom party and teach them a lesson.

Yep, that’s it. There are a few rules (the conspirators make a pact that they will not kill any of their captives, for example), but that’s the gist. As a plot, it’s not a bad one (IMDB’s trivia says it’s actually “based on true events”, though we all know what that means), and where you saw this thing will probably affect whether you can make sense of some of it (Syfy edited two key scenes out, IMDB tells me, so rent the DVD, but some things—such as the identities of the “guards” in the woods—were left on the cutting-room floor altogether, and probably shouldn’t have been). But as far as plots go, it’s simple. And there’s no dearth of acting talent here. Dane, the leader of the outcasts, spent a few years doing time on Degrassi: The Next Generation, as well as appearing in movies as diverse as The Sweet Hereafter and White Oleander. Similarly, the most sympathetic of the captured showed up in Big Momma’s House and Enemy of the State. We’re not dealing with amateur actors here, and that’s probably the film’s major saving grace; the story isn’t all that compelling (and if you saw it on cable, I’m sure the compelling bits were strongly edited), but it’s well-acted, and that’s something.

photo credit: The Guardian

The reason this works? EVERY bullied high school student has fantasized about this. Every single one.

 

As for the behind-the-scenes work, it’s competent, though nothing more than that. Stewart knows where to put a camera to decent, though not necessarily maximum, effect (and seems to have learned a good deal of that from post-James Wan Saw-franchise directors, unfortunately). Dave McFarland handled the cinematography, and the fact that he has twenty-six cinematography credits on IMDB and even I’ve never heard of any of them but this film is telling. (Of the three other films IMDB lists at the top of his page, which are supposedly the four most “popular” based on whatever odd heuristics they use, 2007 shocker Cult, starring Taryn Manning, is the most popular by sheer number of votes, and it has less than eight hundred; The Final, as I write this, is closing in on three thousand, not an out-of-the-ordinary number for an After Dark Horrorfest picture.) Set Designer Eric Whitney did the best work of the tech folks, but then given that three-quarters of the movie takes place in two locations, one could argue his job was also the easiest of the lot. But that secluded cabin is pretty darned awesome.

As a side note, IMDB also tells me both of the project’s executive producers died in close proximity to this film—one just before shooting was completed and one just after. Cue Twilight Zone theme here. ** 1/2

 

Awwww yeah, that’s some trailer right there baby!

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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