DVD Release Date:  January 5, 2010 
Theatrical Release Date:  August 28, 2009
Rating:  R (for strong violent/gruesome accidents, language and a scene of sexuality)
Genre:  Horror
Run Time:  82 min.
Director:  David R. Ellis
Actors:  Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Nick Zano, Haley Webb, Mykelti Williamson, Krista Allen, Andrew Fiscella, Justin Welborn, Stephanie Honore

A recent report in USA Today states that no fewer than 14 horror movies will open in the next two months. If The Final Destination is an indication of what's to come, it's going to be a dispiriting fall movie season.

The Final Destination is the fourth film in the horror franchise about people who try to cheat death, but it's the first installment filmed using Real-D 3D technology. The three-dimensional presentation takes the decimation, decapitation and disgust to depressing levels.

Bobby Campo stars as Nick O'Bannon, who has a vision of imminent death while attending a professional car race. His girlfriend, Lori (Shantel VanSanten), and friends Hunt (Nick Zano) and Janet (Haley Webb) are skeptical of Nick's urgent request to leave the stadium before tragedy strikes, but his conviction convinces them to act. Nick's intuition proves to be a lifesaver. The four friends are spared when disaster unfolds just as Nick envisioned: Cars burst into flame, wreckage flies off the racetrack and straight at the spectators in the stands (remember—the film is playing in 3D in more than half its theaters), and the stadium crumbles and crashes to the ground.

The relish with which the multiple deaths are filmed reflects the film's priorities:  The audience wants to watch the many ways in which people might die, and after three previous Final Destination movies, the filmmakers must deliver ever more creative ways of killing off their characters.

So, after the racetrack disaster, we're shown several more scenes of people meeting their Maker. The reason for the parade of death? Nick's actions at the racetrack saved people who were meant to die at the stadium. Now they must be killed off systematically. But if, Nick theorizes, he can determine who's next, that might break the chain and stop the impending deaths. With the assistance of video footage of the racetrack disaster, and with the help of the Internet ("We Googled ‘premonitions,'" one character explains to another), Nick and his friends try to head off the next fatality.

They fail. One by one, survivors of that day at the racetrack suffer and die, until Nick and his friends are next in line. Can they save themselves?

Death is strictly mechanical—and inevitable—in The Final Destination. It can't be stopped, no matter what precautions the characters take. It's not clear why Nick is given a vision of what's to come, or why, at one point, another of the four friends believes she, too, has foreseen clues about a fatal event in the near future. The one certainty is that someone will die—soon.

The only hope offered in the film is a false one—the premature belief that the characters have succeeded in their efforts to halt the dying. Faith in the midst of fear is also given short shrift. One character speaks of a belief in God, but mainly in resignation. His belief in second chances and in living every day to the fullest are grounded in the reality of personal loss and human frailty, but he says that if God wants him, he's ready to go.

Were the film more interested in theological questions about death, and in positively contrasting a positive view of life with the fatalism at the story's core, The Final Destination might have merited more attention. Instead, its message is one of despair and hopelessness, supplemented by visceral three-dimensional presentations of multiple deaths. Hope is shown to be illusory against the inevitability of death, which is realized in increasingly bizarre fashion:  Inanimate objects like tow trucks, hairspray, overhead fans and conveniently stored barrels of flammable liquids in public venues converge in the most implausible fashion.