Monday, October 25, 2010

[Review] The Final

The plot of The Final is simple: A group of picked-upon high school outcasts devise a plan to invite all of their tormentors to a private Halloween costume party, drug them, chain them up and give them their just desserts by way of physical torture.

The point of The Final, however, is not so simple. In one Saw-like scene, a chained-up bully is given the opportunity to save herself from pain by inflicting pain on one of the other captives. She refuses and has to suffer the consequences.

This, in a nutshell, proves just how dumb, confused and ultimately pointless The Final is.

In the aftermath of Columbine, filmmakers have generally shied away from storylines involving students being murdered and those that didn't were mostly shunned (even Ginger Snaps caused some Columbine related controversy before it was even made and that was a frickin werewolf movie!). The filmmakers behind The Final clearly weren't concerned about causing a stir and decided to go right for the throat. What bothered me most about this film, though, was not the fact that it tackled such a touchy subject—no, I encourage such things—but rather how it was tackled.

Kids being bullied to the very edge of sanity is unfortunately a very real part of life that quite often ends in tragedy. Petty insults being flung at you by a total jerk in your class may not seem like much from the outside, but to a teen, it's all there is and it absolutely has the ability to destroy you. Everyone—and I do mean everyone—can relate to this and sympathize with it. However, the significance, severity and reality of this issue seems to have been completely lost on shallow-minded writer Jason Kabolati. He obviously doesn't understand kids at all, nor does he seem to have a clear idea of what point he's trying to make, which made it impossible to sympathize with any of it.

The Final takes an important issue and exploits it to the nth degree, turning it into something along the lines of Hostel or Saw. Creepy masks are worn, diabolical speeches are made, banjos are played, heavy metal is blasted and strobe lights fill the room while kids are tortured, all for the sake of horror movie atmosphere. One of the characters even says that all his years of watching horror movies are finally being put to good use, which just plain infuriated me. Is Kabolati suggesting that horror fans are psychos who are bound to snap at some point? Is he suggesting that the existence of bloody horror movies are dangerous to our youth? If that's the case, then why the hell did he write a horror movie like this?

The bullied teens are nothing but pathetic caricatures who prove themselves to be ignorant and obnoxious beyond belief. The leader of the group, Dane (Marc Donato), justifies his actions by saying that God would have stopped him if what he was doing was wrong. If he truly believes that God would stop any wrong-doing, then why didn't God stop the jocks at his school from picking on him? Does that mean that they deserved to be picked on?

When some of the captives are given the option to inflict pain on the others in order to be spared, doesn't this totally defeat the purpose? Teens who constantly pick on their peers are usually doing it to feel better about themselves. So weren't these bullies already inflicting pain on others to spare themselves in their everyday lives? Isn't the whole point to prove that this kind of cruel behavior is wrong? So why then, when a captive refuses to play along, do they punish her for it?

The one thing I liked about The Final was the absence of most adults. Parents and teachers are present in the film, but their faces are either left off camera or somehow concealed. This made the loneliness of being a teen more apparent and I think that was a good move on director Joey Stewart's part. But other than that minor detail, I'll just be totally blunt and sum up The Final as an extremely pathetic excuse for a film that says all the wrong things with an endless string of contradictory messages that prove nothing other than the fact that Jason Kabolati is a total douche bag.


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