Consider the creepy cover art of the film The Final: a young girl with her black hair all down over her face like something out of a Japanese horror film, bloody hand prints on the papers littering the floor around her desk, and the words “I will not kill my classmates” written on the chalkboard behind her.
All psyched up? Then you’ve been psyched out. This is a vigilante justice film. Select kids in a high school who are bullied endlessly get together with a bunch of guns, dress up in clown costumes, Nazi regalia, and other dark themed disguises, then, drug, tie-up, and torture all the mean kids at a party in a house in the woods. It’s kind of like the Columbine tragedy meets the Saw series. There’s nothing horror movie scary here, just the disturbing nature of a situation that could really happen—how bullied kids can be turned into monsters.
The dialogue in The Final examines the psychological damage peers can inflict in high school and how many real-life school massacres could be the result of a domino effect that pushes tormented souls to the breaking point. At the same time, it comes across as defending the violent actions of the vigilantes, just as the Saw series tries to steer the audience to want the victims to be tortured because of their immoral pasts. It bangs you over the head repeatedly with its social commentary. But the bottom line is, you don’t sympathize with any of the characters. Not my kind of horror film. It’s not a scary thrill ride involving situations or characters to which I can relate, and not a movie I can see watching more than once.
And don’t be looking for “torture porn.” The pain is not all that impressive and most of the actors fail to deliver any genuine realistic emotions or reactions to the situation in which they find themselves. There’s some goop rubbed on a chick’s face that’s supposed to eat her flesh, but we never see it happen on screen. One guy is stuck with a bunch of needles that look like they’d be used for acupuncture. Some fingers are cut off and a guy’s spine is severed…but none of it is gory, all just suggested. There are quite a few people shot with guns (yawn). If the film wanted to be more about the message than the exploitation, it succeeded, because it fails to make you curl your toes or feel an aching in your groin like the Saw films do.
Add to that a weak racism subplot involving one black dude who escapes the party and is then harassed by some red neck ex-military guy while trying to find help, and the film falls flat on all counts other than its probing dialogue. The Final could be aired on the Chiller network virtually unedited.