Friday, September 7, 2012

The Final (2010)

       High school outcasts Dane, Ravi, Jack, Andy, and Emily are sick of being tormented and humiliated by the popular kids.   Dane comes up with a plan to get back at those who have caused him and his friends so much misery throughout their entire lives.  The outcasts send out fliers of a big costume party being held out in the countryside.  Having only a week to get things set, the outcasts set up Dane's uncle's warehouse for the party.  All of the popular kids and their friends end up at the big costume bash. They drink. They smoke pot. They party hard. What these jackasses don't know is that their drinks have been drugged. They awake to find their hands and feet chained to the floor followed by the outcasts announcing what is going on, who are disguised in masks/costumes reflecting their dark alter egos.  That night, the outcasts plan to torture their abusers by inflicting pain and dismemberment that will scar them for the rest of their lives.

      Bullying is a harsh part of growing up. I'm pretty sure that we have all had a bully of some sort in our lives. I know damn well that I've had to deal with jackasses more times than I would have liked to.  Middle school and high school are the main two parts in a person's life where bullying is most visible.  The truth is that everybody has a different side. We all think that bullies are just mean kids, but never question really why they pick on others. Mostly it is because they feel that they have power that the victim doesn't have and can do it because the victim doesn't stand up to them.  Yes, this is true. But, there have also been cases where the bully him or herself was at one time a victim of bullying  and they take out their anger on others to make themselves feel the power they have been craving.  There have also been cases where the bully turned out to be gay, but was too scared to come out of the closet since he was on the football team and would be judged differently.   In the end though, there really is no excuse for treating people like shit just to make yourself feel in control.  Bullying is not worth it. Not only will people look down on you for being stupid, but some may even try to get revenge on your tormenting the hard way.

      Bullying can have severe consequences and I'm not just talking suspension/expulsion/detention either. I'm talking about the victim trying or in some cases actually killing the bully or bullies.  There's only so much humiliation and torment that a kid can take before they snap.  Look at movies like Stephen King's Carrie, Tamara, Bad Reputation, Christine, Slaughter High, Valentine,  and Sleepaway Camp. Kid got bullied and kid got revenge by killing tormentors in gruesome ways. Okay, maybe that wasn't a good example. Those are just horror movies after all. Okay, how about let's discuss real life horror. At Columbine High School, a group of teens went to school with guns and shot, wounded, and murdered a lot of students and faculty members.  Back in the Spring of 2007, a disturbed student walked into Virginia Tech armed and murdered about thirty people. Is that real enough for you? It was just before I graduated high school when I heard about the shooting. Being a Virginia resident myself, it was extremely shocking to know that this happened only a few hours from me. I couldn't believe that that psychopathic bastard turned a peaceful community into a fucking nightmare.

The point is things like that occur in this world, which is scarier than any horror movie. With horror movies, we know that we are safe. But, things like this get to me because they can and most likely have happened in our world.  We have seen a few movies try to reveal events such as a school shooting. Filmmaker Gus Van Sant directed a film titled Elephant that revolved around the day that a school shooting would take place and the everyday lives of the students who went to that school before their lives were changed only a few hours later.  Most filmmakers won't make movies revolving around teen violence because it happens in real life or may give disturbed kids ideas.

       Since 2007, After Dark Films along with Lionsgate have been holding a Horrorfest where they pick eight independent horror films and release them theatrically as well as on DVD.  This past year, the After Dark Horrorfest 4 picked up an independent psychological thriller titled The Final. It dealt with the horrors of high school cruelty and the consequences that come with it.  The Final received a lot of negative reviews by mainstream critics as to be expected with the content and dark nature of the film.

       The screenplay written by Jason Kabolati was really strong and very clever in my personal opinion.  I was really digging the characters. This is the kinda movie where there is no definite hero or villain.  You just don't know who to root for: the outcasts or the popular kids.  Now, I know most horror fans will say that they root for the outcasts to get their revenge. On the other hand, the outcasts are doing far worse to the popular kids than the popular kids ever did to them. I mean, I would have loved to get revenge on these assholes too, but not in this way. There are plenty of ways to get revenge that don't result in killing or violence.  Make it look like the jocks are on steroids so they lose their football careers.  Give the popular bitches a chocolate bar that makes their ass get REALLY fat.  Put something in their make-up that makes their skin break out. Or just find a way to make them walk out in front of a bus. It's not your fault that the bus driver is old and blind. 1000 Points Bia-tch!  See, now was that so hard? We didn't have to turn to killing or fighting to get payback. BUT, this is a horror film after all and not real life, so I would be pissed if these popular swats didn't get fucking tortured Saw/Hostel style.

        The outcasts are relatable. Dane is the leader obviously and is totally obsessed with doing some dismemberment.  We see that he comes from a very dysfuctional family and that his parents fight a lot. He's also on the verge of committing suicide.  Ravi is constantly tormented because he is Indian. The jocks always tease him like most racists do. They broke his camera and call him Slumdog Millionare, Vin Ladin, and various other names in a racist fashion.   Jack is the quiet one of the group who plays his banjo Deliverance style and feels rejected by his own family. There's a sequence where he is trying to talk to his own father, but his dad continues to work on his truck without responding or noticing that his own son is even there.  Andy is the science expert. And Emily is harassed by the three most popular girls in school because she is quiet and virginal.  It pissed me off sincerely to see how these poor kids were treated. 

        The popular kids were the scum of the Earth in this film. Bradley was the star football player, who took pleasure in making Dane and Ravi's lives Hell.  Bernard was Brad's lackey and joined in focusing his torment more on poor Ravi.  Heather was a stuck up and slutty fucking bitch that would put Regina George from Mean Girls and Kathryn Merteuil from Cruel Intentions to shame. The only person that she cared about was herself. She took great pleasure in taunting Emily just to make herself feel powerful.  And her friends Kelly and Bridget were evil too. Bottom line is that what goes around comes around.  They hurt people and it came back to tear their bodies up in the end.

       There are some people that believe that the outcasts should not have gotten their disturbing revenge like this and in real life, I would say that they are right. This however is a movie. A fictional movie dealing with a realistic problem. This is like a warning and reflection on what bullying does to the victim. It turns them crazy over a period of time. It is psychological and emotional. There have been cases where victims of bullying have actually killed themselves because they couldn't deal with the pain anymore.   Bullying makes people do crazy things folks. It can be prevented, but people don't do anything to stop it. Teachers watch and don't do anything. Other students see it happen and keep to themselves. If you see a teen or child being bullied then you have the ability to stop it from happening. Bullying will never go away, but it can be toned down and treated. 

       This movie is not as violent as you would think it is and that is a good thing.  Kabolati reflects more on the psychological aspect of the characters and the story rather than on the gore, which is good. Judging by the posters and trailer, you would think that this film becomes like Saw or Hostel with kids being tortured and killed. I like that the outcasts never kill the popular kids and that this film isn't a school shooting type of movie. It could have easily gone into slasher territory, but it doesn't and I'm damn happy about that.  It shows that the filmmakers care more about the story and characters and how they are affected in the end.    As for the violence, I did dig how the outcasts scarred their bullies. A guy gets sharp pins stuck into him while he is paralyzed, yet can feel every bit of pain.  Some girl is tied to a chair in front of all of her classmates, ball gagged, and has acid in the form of a shaving cream looking substance smeared all over her face that will eat away at her beautiful and "perfect" skin.  A football star has his spinal cord severed. There are some cutting off of fingers.  And one dude gets shot with a spike from a cattle gun in his face. All in all, the film is violent, but not too violent.

        The direction by first time feature film director Joey Stewart was very good. Stewart really did a great job of setting everything up and then unleashing the chaos in the last two acts. 

        I thought the acting in this movie was fantastic by everyone involved. Marc Donato was great as Dane. You could tell this guy had totally lost it. I loved his mask that was basically a gas mask with a voice changer.   Vincent Silochan was excellent as Ravi. His outfit was fucking great as the evil clown. I felt really bad for this guy. Lindsay Seidel was great as Emily.  I loved her costume too.  Travis Tedford was good as Andy. Loved the whole Nazi outfit. I never dreamed that Spanky from The Little Rascals movie would hurt anyone until now.  Eric Isenhower was good as Jack. Loved the scarecrow outfit.  Justin Arnold had the asshole football playing  jock role down perfectly as Bradley. I fucking hated that character and have known guys just like him from back when I was in high school.  Daniel Ross was a douche bag as Bernard. What a racist dick that character was! Ryan Hayden was a douche as Miles.  Preston Flagg was good as Riggs.  Julin had the stuck up and slutty bitch role down perfectly as Heather. I hated this character and her torment was awesome.  But, she was also VERY hot and I would definitely bang her regardless.  Whitney Hoy was good as Bridget. She was the bad girl who did bad things, yet kinda felt bad for doing it type that we've seen before in movies like this. Laura Ashley Samuels was also good as Kelly, the other bitch lackey.  I really liked Jascha Washington as Kurtis, who was basically the hero of the film. He wasn't a bully or an outcast and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I liked him a lot. It's not often that an African American is the hero in a horror or thriller flick.  All in all, great cast.

       I did have a few issues with the film though. The first is that there's a sequence where three of the popular jocks get pulled over by a cop on their way to the party. I just didn't understand the purpose of this sequence since it didn't really do anything to add to the film.  And the ending was a little bit of a downer. This is the kinda movie that starts where it ends then goes back and reveals what all happened to get to that point. I also wish that the first act that revolved around the bullying had been longer, so we would feel more what these outcasts had been feeling. Other than that, I had no complaints.

       Overall, The Final is a really good psychological thriller dealing with the harsh world of high school and bullying. It reveals how bullying can go so far that it sets the victims over the edge. Some will like it. Others will hate it. But, it is a film with a deep and strong message. It's not about violence, but consequences of violence and how it leads to more violence. I wouldn't show this film in a Health course, but it strangely enough could be educational. It is the dark part of high school that people don't like to talk about. If you like what I've said above then you will most likely enjoy this film for what it truly is.  The horrors of the demon inside ourselves released when pushed to the limit.


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