Apr 25, 2010

Posted in 2010s, Guest Writer, Reviewers

The Final (2010)

The Final (2010)

After suffering through years of bullying and brutality, a group of high school misfits turn the tables on their tormentors.

In a nutshell, that’s the entire plot of THE FINAL. To be more specific, The Misfits devise an elaborate plan, inviting The Bullies to a costume party where the Kool-Aid is most definitely “spiked”. When The Bullies awake from their ruffiesnooze bound in chains. The Misfits then proceed to enact their revenge one-by-one, and while they promise not to kill, what they have in mind is far, far worse.

To be perfectly honest, I  had no plans of writing a review of the film since overall I found it to be hit-and-miss. While I really liked the idea of it, I found the writing and acting to be sub par. Neither The Misfits nor The Bullies are developed more than one-note cartoon, and some of the acting is just atrocious. Once the carnage begins, Marc Donato, leader of The Misfits, delivers all of his lines as if they were all written in BOLDFACE – ALL CAPS – ITALICS!!!! On the flip side, Jascha Washington as Kurtis, the kid who’s “Cool” but not one of “Them” and was not supposed to be at the party, is so unenthusiastic that he manages to suck all the energy out of the climactic scenes.

However, in the weeks since I watched it I find my mind continually revisiting THE FINAL, and I realized it struck a much deeper chord in me than I first thought.

Let me put this right out there. When I moved to a new school in a rich neighborhood when I was in the 6th grade, I was bullied relentlessly for the entire year. At best, I came home from school with torn clothes, missing book and all sorts of cuts and bruises. At worse, I had strangle marks around my neck and 8 broken fingers. The faculty turned a blind eye, and my parents figured I must have been doing something to bring this upon myself.

I remember when the shootings at Columbine first happened, everyone was so shocked, wondering how a thing like this could happened. I wondered why it hadn’t happened before.  I myself had plotted out all manner of vengeance upon those rich brats (It’s lucky I never developed telekinesis or I would have put Carrie White’s handiwork to shame!) So, while watching THE FINAL, I found myself not only siding with The Misfits but secretly wishing I could have pulled off something like this. And that realization scared me.

In retrospect, there are plenty of things to like about THE FINAL that I glossed over on first watch. Lindsay Seidel as Misfit Emily is sweetly soft-spoken, delicate and thus gives the most chilling performance on the film.

When Emily orders a Bully Girl to cut of the fingers of her Dumb Jock Boyfriend or have her own digits removed, Bully Girl blubbers, “I can’t do it! I can’t hurt anyone!!”  Seidel replies with the sweetest, most charming smile and says, “Sure you can….you’ve hurt me every day of your life.”   Goosebumps!!

It was also a great touch that plenty of kids chained up at the party were not necessarily one of The Bullies. However, since they stood idly by and did nothing as The Misfits were tortured all these years, now they’re forced to sit chained up and helpless to do anything but watch as retribution is dealt out.

I also appreciated the depiction of the adults in the film. With the exception of one character, all of the adults are…well, kinda absent. We only see the back of the teachers’ head; mom’s just a pair of legs (which reminded me of “Muppet Babies”, but that’s not the point right now). Even on the phone, the police are just the Charlie Brown “wah-WAH-wahhhh” noise. When one of the Misfit Boys says goodbye to his father before he goes off to his death, he’s met by silence from the pair of legs sticking out from under the car dad’s tinkering on….and the silence is heartbreaking.

And finally and perhaps the most unnerving is the The Misfits have no intention of surviving the night themselves…and for them, that’s part of the reward.

When I watched the film, I was rather put off by the actual revenge sequences. While they were technically excellent and suitably suspenseful, I had seen echoes of every single one of them in other movies, ranging from AUDITION and SAW to TOURIST TRAP. Even WOLF CREEK‘s “head-on-a-stick” routine got some play, and I was disappointed by the lack of originality. But weeks later as the movie was kicking it’s way around my brain for the hundredth time, I remembered one of The Misfits saying during the planning stages, “All those years watching horror movies, and now we get to use what we learned.” There’s a fine line between homage and ripoff, and while I’m still not sure which this is, at least they attempted to “cite their sources”.

While it’s flawed, I think THE FINAL is worth a watch. If you decide to watch THE FINAL, I suggest beforehand to read the recent news stories about the Death of Phoebe Price, a 15 year-old Massachusetts girl driven to suicide by relentlessly cruel school bullies.  Maybe THE FINAL has a lot more to say than what meets the eye.

– By Patrick

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Rating: 5.0/5 (4 votes cast)
The Final (2010), 5.0 out of 5 based on 4 ratings

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