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Movie Review

Never mind the title, this is the fourth Final Destination film—in 3-D in some theaters. Clearly the filmmakers have no idea what the word final actually means. They also have no incentive to mess with the narrative formula of a franchise that reliably rakes in roughly $100 million in worldwide revenue every time it's unleashed on audiences.

That formula is spelled out like this: Someone has a vision of a catastrophe and decides not to get on an airplane, a freeway or a roller coaster (Final Destination 1, 2 and 3, respectively). Conflagration ensues, but a few "lucky" folks evade their intended rendezvous with their "final destination." Until, of course, Death comes after them one by one to ensure that his accounting department doesn't have any errors on the books.

And so it goes again.

The fateful setting in v.4.0? A NASCAR race. Twentysomething Nick and a group of three friends are just settling in for some high-speed bumper-to-bumper action when Nick has a graphic vision of impending doom. A screwdriver on the track triggers a chain reaction of fiery, ferocious proportions, sending stock cars careening out of control and into the stands of the decrepit stadium.

"We have to get out of here," Nick tells his friends. "We're all going to die. There's going to be a crash."

There is. A big one.

Forewarned is forearmed, and Nick and his crew scamper to safety just as tires, engines, hoods and all manner of deadly automotive projectiles begin to rain down.

But their timely escape from Death's clutches, along with a few other people they manage to rescue, is only temporary. Once more, Death (a malevolent personification we never actually see) begins his bloody work of hunting down and killing the dozen or so souls who cheated him the first time around—in the order that they were supposed to have died originally.

This time around, though, Nick keeps having visions of who's going to die next—and he thinks he's figured out a way to disrupt the deadly cycle.

(That's something horror-averse moviegoers haven't managed to do when it comes to this franchise.)

Positive Elements

If there's even a shred of a moral to this movie's tired storyline, it's the idea that we need to make the most of the time we have and to be thankful for each day we're given.

Nick and his girlfriend, Lori, try hard to puzzle out how to elude their mortal fate and help their friends Hunt and Janet (as well as several others from the race) stay alive. Nick, especially, puts himself repeatedly at risk as he races to and fro in sometimes successful, sometimes vain efforts to thwart Death.

One person Nick and his friends help save at the track is a security guard named George—who proves to be a kind and helpful (if temporary) ally in their campaign to readjust their temporal outcomes.

Spiritual Content

As with all the movies in this franchise, the overarching spiritual idea is that you have an appointed time to die, and if you somehow evade it, Death will still find you one way or another. Internet "research" clues Nick and Lori into the idea that if they can help one of those marked for death escape it yet again, they'll break the entire cycle and guarantee that others who're supposed to die will live.

George briefly references his belief in God. He also believes that his deceased wife and daughter are in heaven, and he looks forward to a reunion with them. Hunt has a large tattoo of a cross on his bicep. Talismans of good fortune (which, incidentally, don't work) include a truck driver's horseshoe and a lucky coin that Hunt carries.

Sexual Content

Hunt's reaction to news that his death may be imminent? A vow to go have sex. "If I'm dying, I'm trying," he says. He makes "good" by having casual sex with a woman in a poolside cabana. (It's a lengthy, graphic encounter in which her breasts are exposed). Hunt makes a quip about how much he likes oral sex, and he laments the death of a woman he labels a "hot MILF."

Nick and Lori apparently live together. (They're shown in bed together.)

Camera shots at the pool repeatedly show women in bikinis, as well as Hunt's bare torso. We see Lori in a tight pajama tank top and skimpy panties. Lori and Janet tend to wear cleavage-revealing tops.

Violent Content

Final Destination movies are nothing if not exercises in how to abuse the human body in new ways. Death, it seems, has little interest in merely killing people. He wants to make sure their pieces get smashed and scattered.

An abbreviated summary of the horrific fates suffered by the film's characters includes: multiple impalings (once through the mouth), decapitations, eviscerations (two people are cut in two by a flying car hood), a man being "sectioned" after a truck rams his body through a chain link fence, and nail-gun incidents involving one person's arm and another's face. Somebody has near-fatal contact with a car wash gone mad.

And then there's one unfortunate victim's close encounter with the meat-grinding gears of an escalator and someone else's intestine-removing contact with an active swimming pool drain. Explosions hurl bodies this way and that. A woman's right eye ends up on the receiving end of a rock hurled by a lawnmower. A man's burning face lands at the feet of someone else. Hurtling tires and engines do horrific damage. At least four people get hit by large trucks. And a man who gets set on fire also gets dragged behind his tow truck.

George, convinced that he's going to die soon anyway, tries unsuccessfully to hang himself. (He says he's also tried to overdose on pills and has sat in the garage with the car running.)

CSI-style X-ray images show people being mangled in all manner of ways.

Crude or Profane Language

Ten or so f-words. A dozen s-words. God's name is misused 10 times (three times with "d--n"). "A--" and "h---" round out the tally. We see the word "b--ch" on a T-shirt, and one character makes an obscene hand gesture. Crude slang for male and female anatomy is used. A ranting racist uses the n-word in a foul conversation with a black man.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Hunt has "binoculars" that are actually a canteen full of Jim Beam. We also hear references to Jack Daniel's. Hunt drinks a beer. George, a recovering alcoholic, tries to resist the temptation to guzzle a glass of wine he's poured for himself. We learn that he's a widower because he killed his wife and daughter in a car accident while he was driving drunk. An angry man is visibly inebriated and still drinking while driving to the home of someone he intends to kill.

A couple of characters smoke.

Other Negative Elements

The aforementioned racist carries a cross to George's yard, intending to set it on fire. Racist statements are made about blacks and Koreans.

Hunt says the only reason to watch a NASCAR race is for the accidents. He's also unwilling to leave the stands because he's placed a $500 bet on the race's outcome.

A mother at the race gives her two young sons tampons to use as earplugs.


Three men are primarily responsible for The Final Destination. Craig Perry has been the grim mastermind producer behind all four films. Director David R. Ellis and writer Eric Bress are also franchise alumni, having teamed up for Final Destination 2.

None of them seem to be able to stop gushing about their latest exercise in creative dismemberment.

Perry says of Bress, "[He] has a very sick and twisted mind and was able to bring that to the table again."

Bress brags, "For me, writing a Final Destination movie is about the most fun I have as a writer, especially this one because the goal was to find ways to outdo the violence in the three films that came before it." And he says he knows exactly what his audience is craving: "These films cater to a certain bloodlust and expectation of humor. The trick is to make sure you're giving the audience what they want."

Bress also says of Ellis, "[He] is a great director for something as dark as this because, whether he admits it or not, he has a warped little child in him that jumps for joy every time there's a bag of blood that explodes a bit too close to the lens, or a fireball that grows too big."

Ellis says simply, "It's complete chaos and destruction—in 3-D."

My final thoughts are barely needed after all those exclamations. Even without them, little is left to say by the time you get to the fourth outing of a story that arrives at the same destination every time.

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Bobby Campo as Nick; Shantel VanSanten as Lori; Nick Zano as Hunt; Haley Webb as Janet; Mykelti Williamson as George


David R. Ellis ( )


New Line Cinema



Record Label



In Theaters

August 28, 2009

On Video

January 5, 2010

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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