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The Final – 6

Director – Joey Stewart

Cast – Marc Donato, Jascha Washington, Whitney Hoy, Justin Arnold, Lindsay Seidel, Julin, Laura Ashley Samuels, Travis Tedford, Eric Isenhower, Vinsent Silochan, Preston Flagg, Hunter Garner, Ryan Hayden, Mark Nutter

Release Year – 2010

Reviewed by John of the Dead

When I came across The Final I thought to myself, “This is exactly what I’ve been needing from the genre, a revenge film”, and I was pleased to see a heavy and mostly-positive revenge element in this After Dark film. Set in a high school setting that gives most of us a social atmosphere that we can relate to, we follow a group of social outcasts forced to befriend one another in order to survive the constant onslaught of bullying by jocks and cheerleaders alike. The outcasts have had enough of the unwarranted torture, and carefully devise a plan to secretly host a huge party for everyone that has given them grief – a party where nobody will be killed, but they will wish that they were.

The film takes off as one would expect, introducing each major protagonist and the constant battery they face by those privileged with a better physique, more money, or both. Writer Jason Kabolati did a good job with his execution of the bullying, guaranteeing to get a rise out of the viewer and leave them fuming that they can do nothing to help the good souls on screen. The first act consists of the bullying and then the outcasts’ preparations for the big event, and at the 33 minute mark (beginning of the second act) we are given our first taste of revenge horror, and it was sweet. The bullies are now the victims of those they picked on for years, and with a slew of degrading and torturous “games” their cries for forgiveness are not granted. As mentioned above there is no intent to kill the bullies, but that does not mean the film comes lacking in horror. The horror provided was sweet and the games the bullies were forced to play were sadistic but a little silly as well, making it unlike the usual Saw-esque copies constantly dished out by studios these days. Of course, despite the enjoyable horror this story does not come without its faults. My one complaint with the story was its overly long second act that never really ended and just eventually meshed with the third act. I am all for drawn-out scenes of high suspense, but along with trying to throw in new character and conflict to the mix the story only gave us a few torture sequences during the final hour of the film. There were several times where I felt the film dragging because of this, but the engaging story managed to still keep me interested despite my displeasure. Sadly, for a “torture” film the kills were nothing special. Normally with these types of films it is the kills that sell it, but this story did not make much of the potential for great kills and instead left us with lackluster ones.

First-time feature film director Joey Stewart did well with this piece, selling his actors as they provided positive performances that got you going during the film’s early conflict sequences. Where the story fell short, Stewart’s direction kept the pace moving and managed to keep my attention by employing atmosphere and engaging sets. I mentioned earlier that I expected more from the horror and the kills, and the same applies to the directing execution of the horror in this piece. Granted his overall execution of the horror was not bad and in fact was enjoyable for me, I just expected more and was a bit saddened that this film with much potential did not achieve the potential it deserved. Nonetheless, he gave some full-frontal cinematography of the torture scenes, however most of the actual kill sequences either occurred off screen or were edited so quickly you really did not see the film occur – obviously a tactic used in low-budget filmmaking.

Overall, The Final is a borderline-positive flick that came very close to achieving greatness but instead fell to lackluster kills and a story that dragged when it should not have. The film comes with many positives, including an engaging storyline and plenty of revenge, and for all it’s worth you may enjoy this film slightly more than I did and find it a very worthwhile experience.

Rating: 6/10

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