Bobby Campo, Shantel Vansanten, The Final Destination

Jim Sheldon/New Line Cinema

Review in a Hurry: No one cheats the grim reaper! That guy is on a total tear in the 4th installation in the "freak accident" franchise. Though there are some shocking and clever scenes, the premise is too worn to keep you hooked.

The Bigger Picture: There is an infectious fun that comes from a movie trying to outdo itself with each passing scene. The premise of the "Final Destination" franchise stays the same: Those who cheat death will get their mortal comeuppance. But Final Destination 4 does what other beaten-to-death franchises like Halloween and Jason failed to due in recent years: Be murderously creative with each kill.

It starts with a showstopper—an over the top, fiery massacre at a race track (a giant engine is hurled into the crowd, flaming tires tear through the stands, panicked fans trample one another fleeing the Penske-fueled inferno). Nick (Bobby Campo) has a premonition of the destruction moments beforehand and is able to rescue some of his friends from the slaughter.

But this is Death we're talking about here. And if there's anything Death loves to take into his icy clutches, it's good-looking teenagers. So character by character gets killed in grisly accidental deaths in the order that they escaped their original fates. Nick tries to "break the chain" by intervening.

Even though each character's demise is a forgone conclusion, the filmmakers keep interest up with false starts and deceptive turns: Will the soccer mom in the salon be electrocuted by a hair dryer? Will the wobbly ceiling fan decapitate her? Might the bored stylist lose her grip on her scissors and accidently plunge them into her clients neck? Her gory demise comes out of nowhere and will make you guffaw and giggle from pure shock.

Here's the snag: It's cheap. The shock is cheap. The production value is cheap. And the mock suspense over "Jeez, wonder what's gonna happen if he gets near that lawnmower?!" a is cheap gimmick. If it weren't for the screwdrivers, wooden planks and man-eating carwashes popping off the screen thanks to the 3D glasses, there wouldn't be too much new worth seeing.

The 180—A Second Opinion: The rule of diminishing returns (the more of something you make, the lower the quality) remains true. This goes for the whole franchise as well as the one-upsmanship in mortality scenes. Best to stick with the original.


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