Seriously, Don't Drink the Kool-Aid!

Movie Title: The Final (2010)
Spoilers: No

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The aptly titled and suspenseful The Final is a film about peer payback. Bullies beware. What it lacks in directional fortitude it partially makes up for in its timeless, theme-based value, summed up in that always appetite-stimulating word: revenge.

Lucky for it, this budget-challenged lack of cinematic confidence can never be without an inherent and primal appeal. The dialogue may scream: "Isn't it obvious we're being filmed?", but every step of the way leading up to the middle, you know something's cooking for the jerky jocks and snooty drama-queens for whom revenge is a dish best served cold.

The entire movie is the relishing extension of juvenile payback on bullies like only the picked-on can fully appreciate. Of course, kids aren't this philosophic. They don't sit down and plan something like this, not unless they take or need some really strong medication. A cruel beating is payback enough in actuality, whereas this methodical mayhem is characteristic of a payback fantasy, if not a psychotic's snap.

We treat ourselves to these fulfilling fantasies occasionally, and understandably so. Who hasn't sometimes imagined seeing his boss or supervisor hanging from a tree with a stake driven through one eye, with maggots crawling out of that once fast-moving orifice under a now caved-in nose? You see what I mean.

But when you try to bring to life a movie about kids getting revenge on other kids, things start going wrong. Plans get made and then abandoned. The shock of one crying out in pain becomes too much for some of those perpetrating it to handle. But tell that to a kid who's been picked on his whole life. He or she will revel in the satisfaction of seeing the enactment of it as it is done here. 

The Final is lazy, probably as lazy as most students taking finals. It is as lazily directed as it is acted, with ridiculously easy deaths and chains on victims that can apparently be unlocked by simply reaching over and undoing the buckles with the other hand. If only they would look down and see the shiny buckles!

So you see how little care was taken with the details. No cell phones are ringing, with frantic parents looking for their out-too-late kids. And socially active kids send more text messages to each other in two hours than adults do in 3 days. Where are the texts? And where are the kids coming and going from one party to another at all hours of the night?

And there's so little blood. Someone was saving money on production costs by using precious little fake blood, no doubt just as they were with those easily unbuckled, victim-friendly shackles. Why spring for more when you can ask your audience to use their imaginations?

But tell me why it's so easy to kill in movies? Death sentences are carried out without effort, when in reality, they're a lot harder to do. And I was expecting to hear some technical banter about getting the job done: "Careful to leave some diaphragmatic activity or he won't be able to breathe long enough to appreciate being paralyzed." Where's their spirit!?

Before and after the movie, it's back to reality. Real victims of bullies find ways to fight or prank back. Others endure a few punches to the shoulder and the wedgies and swallow their pride by enduing the cruel bathroom pranks, only to laugh at the events years later. That spells growing up for many of us. Very few go Columbine on our asses.

But a movie about school bully revenge has a classic appeal that will probably never die and goes to reinforce the karma-coined conviction that what goes around does indeed come around. The cruelty you inflict on others is being stored up in some far-away warehouse for revenge goods, just waiting to be shipped to you when you are least ready to receive the package. 

(JH)

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Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: R (for language, violence, torture)
Director: Joey Stewart
Summary: A group of high school outcasts get revenge on the students that torment them.
Starring: Marc Donato "Dane," Jascha Washington "Kurtis," Whitney Hoy "Bridget," Justin Arnold "Bradley," Travis Tedford "Andy," Julin "Heather," Lindsay Seidel "Emily," Mark Nutter "Deputy Henessey," Hunter Garner "Tommy," Eric Isenhower "Jack," Preston Flagg "Riggs," Matthew Posey "Parker," Laura Ashley Samuels "Kelly"
Genre: Drama / Horror / Thriller
Trailer

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