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hail HYDRA | by maryann johanson

The Final Destination (review)

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Death Porn 2009

You know how if you look close at a bottle of those high-fructose-loaded, chemically colored “fruit-juice” drinks you find that disclaimer: “Contains no juice”? We need a label like that for movies: “Contains no movie.” G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra would have gotten that label. And so would The Final Destination, a quite literal waste of celluloid.
There’s no plot here, no characters — the young, bland cast barely register as human, never mind as actors performing a story — just a series of gleefully depicted gruesome deaths. As in the other pointless installments in this franchise after the first just-about-defensible one, a group of people escape death thanks to a premonition that removes them from danger at the last moment, and then, because they’ve angered the universe by “cheating” death, they must be killed in other ways to balance the tally, preferably ways even more horrific than the one they missed. Director David R. Ellis — who also perpetrated Final Destination 2 as well as Snakes on a Plane — wants to tease and titillate the audience by creating a would-be orgasmic buildup to each grisly rending of a human body, and also obviously hopes we’ll get an additional frisson of pleasure from how “clever” each fatality is.

And because of the whole premonition idea — someone sees the deaths in all their gory glory before they happen — Ellis gets to kill his meatbag pawns with impunity, then rewind and build up and tease and titillate and do it all again.

Plus, this one’s in 3D, so in addition to obnoxious product placement that’s even more in-your-face than ever, you get bits of bone and flesh and splatters of blood getting thrown at you, too. You pay extra for this privilege of 3D, of course, which means that, in my case, I paid $16 for a “movie” that’s only 75 minutes long (not counting the end credits, but counting the opening ones). Not that I would wish for the movie to be any longer, you see: I wish they’d never made it at all. But what a scam, getting people to pay a premium for a “movie” that’s barely even movie length. It’s evil genius.

It’s death porn, pure and simple, and though I’d like to say it’s hard to imagine anyone actually getting a thrill from this, the midnight crowd I saw the film with was having a ball. And the filmmakers know precisely what they’re doing: they must, when the script — by Eric Bress (The Butterfly Effect) — features characters noting that it’s “sick” to attend an event, such as the NASCAR-type race at which that first death orgy occurs, because you expect to see violence, explosions, and bloody mayhem. If this is meant to somehow excuse the film — hey, it’s just human nature to want to see people die! — it does not succeed in doing so.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that we are all far too removed from reality that something like this repulsive movie can be presented as entertainment. I wonder how much “fun” anyone who’s ever been on a battlefield or witnessed an urban suicide bombing would find this.

MPAA: rated R for strong violent/gruesome accidents, language and a scene of sexuality

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine
  • Jordan

    Oh go cry in a corner. The Final Destination Series was never meant to be a serious collection of movies. When you go see a Final Destination movie, you go to have fun and get weired out by the crazy ways the characters die. Sure, this was not the best of the 4, but it was fun.

  • MaryAnn

    Perhaps you can explain what is fun about watching people die.

    I’d really like to know what you get out it.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGE8LzRaySk JoshDM

    I’d much rather watch this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGE8LzRaySk

    They had it coming too.

  • tomservo

    Being a horror movie fan, I can’t look down on people who enjoy these films. Asian and the so-called more sophisticated Europeans don’t seem to have a problem making obscenely violent films. Yet these are portrayed as “artistic.” Is Final Destination any worse than, say, Audition or Irreversible? I think this torture porn genre goes after what most people find appealing about movies, a visceral reaction.

  • MaryAnn

    *FD4* is about *nothing* but getting the audience off on watching people killed in brutal ways.

    *Irreversible* is indeed very violent, but it uses the violence to make several important points about human nature and how violence impacts us — my review is here and I urge you to read it to understand why I feel it has nothing to do with the likes of this film.

    One major difference between the two films is that *Irreversible* is not meant to be a popcorn movie. It is not meant to be “entertaining” and “diverting” and “just a movie.” *FD4* is.

    If you can explain to me what purpose *FD4* has beyond titillating an audience that it assumes gets off on brutal gore, I’d love to hear it. Or perhaps you can merely justify why it’s okay to try to make brutal gore pornographic. Sociopaths take pleasure in the pain of others. Clearly, most people are not sociopaths. So please tell me what it is about this movie that so many people who are ostensibly normal find pleasurable.

    I really really really do want to know, because I don’t understand it at all, and I don’t find shit like this enjoyable. What’s wrong with *me* that that is the case?

  • http://www.michaelgmunz.com Michael

    I’m with MaryAnn on not getting the entertainment appeal of watching people die/suffer, but maybe that’s part of why characters in these things tend to be so cardboard? Which is worse, watching poorly crafted characters who “barely register as human” get diced up, or those we relate to and view as real people (or as real as one gets in a fictional medium, anyway)?

    Then again, I enjoy Alien, and that’s got well-drawn characters getting slaughtered, so…hrm. Question of the Day topic?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGE8LzRaySk JoshDM

    It think it’s all about making obnoxious, unlikeable characters that, as an audience, you’re hoping are going to either mend their ways and endear themselves to you, or succumb to a form of Darwinism.

    Then again, there has really only been one movie at sequel #4 that has truly stood the high test of quality, and it will only take a geek a moment to recall it. All other #4′s should have been direct to video.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGE8LzRaySk JoshDM

    Coda: Remember kids, #4 is twice #2.

  • Chris

    I’m not a NASCAR fan, but my roommate is, and I’ve seen a lot of races. I really don’t understand why everyone thinks people love crashes. I mean, if you’re an idiot, fine, but if you’re actually a racing fan, CRASHES FUCK UP THE SPORT. Same thing in hockey. Some morons love fights, but to me they’re tedious and delay the actual game.

    My point is, I wish people would stop excusing their love for these horrible films (I include the other torture/death porn movies in this one) with, “uh, sports!.”

    No, it’s NOT the same. You like watching people die. That’s not the same as a football game, no matter how much you twist it.

  • tomservo

    Not having seen FD4, I can’t comment specifically about that movie. I have seen some of the Saw and Hostel movies, plus a good number of their brethren. Like I said before, it’s a visceral response people have, especially in a communal environment like a movie theater, that gets people’s blood flowing. Similar to a roller coaster ride. Another reason in which I have personally felt, is the idea that “I made it through such a gross film.” I had that feeling after seeing Cannibal Holocaust and some of the other Italian and Asian gorefests. Kind of a badge of honor that you’ve witnessed some of the most extreme films ever made. I know that sounds freakish, but there it is.

  • Accounting Ninja

    I’ve always felt the same way as MAJ, and always thought something was “wrong” with me too, especially since a bunch of my friends love these movies. I get this horrible knot in my stomach when someone dies in these movies. And horrifically dies: with screaming and suffering and steeping in their own horror as they watch blades go in or limbs fly off or guts spill out.

    It’s the suffering part I hate. I can watch war movies. I can watch Braveheart. I love LOVE scary-not GORY-movies. A good ghost story is one of my favorite stories! Creepy and tense!

    I don’t care how obnoxious the character is. I just don’t want to see it, and then replay it in my head over and over and over…Once it’s in there, I can’t get it out! I WILL NOT watch a movie like that. Call it mental self defense.

    I would love to be a film critic, because seriously I can’t shut up when I geek out, but then I’d have to watch the gore too. MAJ, you’re braver than I.

  • tomservo

    I’ll never forget the time I saw Takashi Miike’s Audition in the theater. This was before the whole torture porn genre took off (2000?) The last 30 minutes contain the most horrific torture sequence I’ve seen, before or since, and it goes on and on. I wanted to look away at some points, but I couldn’t. My friends and I were speechless as we left the theater and I couldn’t stop thinking about it long after it was over. That is the mark of a movie achieving the filmmakers vision.

  • amanohyo

    I’ve only seen the first of these (but I’m guessing the stupid supernatural plot-killing premise is a constant). The gore didn’t get to me, but the boredom did. It’s like football to the groin (with the secret blood code entered) repeated ad nauseum. Fans of Mortal Kombat and Happy Tree Friends are probably into this series since they’re used to watching cardboard cutouts die in ridiculous ways.

    For me, it was about as entertaining and suspenseful as watching a cook debone a dozen CGI chickens while discussing the finer points of his or her antique floor lamp collection. I seriously had to fight to stay awake, and this was back when I could still easily watch three movies in a row (and one night two of those movies were Last Night at Marienbad). I can’t even imagine how wretched and tedious this must be.

  • Sara

    For me, it was about as entertaining and suspenseful as watching a cook debone a dozen CGI chickens while discussing the finer points of his or her antique floor lamp collection.

    That’s the perfect way to describe these movies. And, I think, torture-porn movies. They’re boring. They’re like cardboard cutouts of movies with cardboard cutouts of characters speaking cardboard cutouts of dialogue. I seriously cannot believe someone could compare the gut-wrenching torture of Audition to the lame deaths in the FD movies. It’s not the presence of gore itself. If that were the case, why would MAJ recommend so many Tarantino films (and the countless other good-but-bloody films out there)? It’s not that gore for the sake of gore is offensive. On the contrary, it’s sleep-inducing, because watching a film without a narrative and/or character arc is like watching rain on a windowpane. Sure, viewers like me still get squicked out and have to look away when someone is being disgustingly tortured or brutally killed, but that’s the extent of it. Being a huge horror film fan, I saw the first FD movie and found it a huge snooze-fest. I couldn’t imagine enduring six more hours of footage.

  • Sara

    Being a horror movie fan, I can’t look down on people who enjoy these films. Asian and the so-called more sophisticated Europeans don’t seem to have a problem making obscenely violent films. Yet these are portrayed as “artistic.

    Tom, you act as if Americans have never made an “artistic” horror film, or done gore “artistically”–that such pursuits are only the business of the European intelligentsia, or something. In fact, there are a lot of “artistic” American filmmakers; they just can’t get the Hollywood money-machine to back them. Though I’m not sure what you mean by “artistic,” nor your use of quotes. Do the quotes imply those films aren’t artistic? Or are you implying that the “so-called more sophisticated” Europeans think they’re making art but aren’t? Those movies are portrayed as “artistic”–i.e. “good” and “worth-watching”–because they have not only actual characters and a plot and a point (really, the bare minimum for a watchable film), but cinematic poeticism and themes as well. It has nothing to do with the amount of gore or violence at all, really. And even the most postmodern narrative is a narrative I can get behind. But a series of graphic deaths strung together in random order with some dialogue between them isn’t a narrative and it isn’t a movie. It’s just hollow imagery.

  • MBI

    In Final Destination 3, the two last survivors reminisce about the loved ones they lost in the first scene of the movie. The guy tells the girl that he would have married his late girlfriend. They would have been very happy together, forever, he says. The girl doesn’t say anything, but we know from her expression what she’s thinking: She knows that this poor guy was about to be dumped right before the accident. But she doesn’t tell him; she says nothing.

    I watched all five Best Picture nominees last year, but I didn’t see a single scene as good as this one. And I can tell you why people like movies like this: It provokes a reaction, and I’ll always take a movie that provokes a reaction over one that doesn’t. I don’t like “Saw,” at all, but it sure as shit is a better movie than “The Reader.” And I don’t have jack shit in common with someone who doesn’t enjoy a good slasher movie, the same way I don’t have anything in common with someone who doesn’t like “Die Hard” or “Ghostbusters.” I don’t like every film that has super gore, I don’t like “Saw” and I don’t like “Hostel” but I see way more “cinematic poetism” (eye roll) in “Final Destination 3″ or “Saw III” than I do in supposedly artistic films. I see far more creative energy and genuine emotion in the Saw and Final Destination series than I do in Someone upthread made a comment that they enjoyed “Audition,” in which a character you care about gets tortured, but doesn’t like it when a character they don’t care about gets tortured, and wonders what that means. That’s a good damn question. If you don’t like pain and suffering, should you enjoy “Audition”? Dario Argento? “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” “Dawn of the Dead”? “The Passion of the Christ”? “Braveheart,” for that matter? Why does “Braveheart” get a pass? Just because it doesn’t linger on its faceless extra’s brutal deaths? I haven’t seen “Irreversible,” but it seems to me the veneer of respectability gives people cover when they say they enjoy it. Armond White, for the record, called Irreversible’s director Gaspar Noe a fraud and a deliberate sensationalist (although given the source, I realize the irony).

  • http://www.rainbeau.ca Chris Beaubien

    I hate this franchise. The only plausible ending for the first “Final Destination” would be if every single character that death was chasing wound up dead. The end. Finito! Any other alternative to that is a cheat — as the detestable “Final Destination 2″ and its followers were.

    Because the Devon Sawa and Ali Larter characters didn’t expire in the first movie, “Final Destination” is at best broken and at worst, lame.

    And JoshDM, nobody deserves that.

  • Jolly

    One major difference between the two films is that *Irreversible* is not meant to be a popcorn movie. It is not meant to be “entertaining” and “diverting” and “just a movie.” *FD4* is.

    Does it matter, though? I’ll bet you ten bucks that the extended rape seen from Irreversible is sitting on porn servers around the world. The creator’s intent and the audience’s reaction are two different things.

    The “ear” scene from Reservoir Dogs was traumatizing. It took years until I no longer associated the Steve Miller Band’s “Stuck Here in the Middle With You” with that scene. I’ve since realized that most of the gore is offscreen, but I’m not sure what “artistic” purpose it accomplishes that makes it more justifiable than similar gore in the slasher movies of the era. I’m also not sure the movie would have lost it’s impact without that scene. And that scene is also a clip over on youtube without any context.

    “But dehumanizing the victim makes things simpler
    It’s like breathing with a respirator
    It eases the conscience of even the most conscious
    and calculating violator ” – Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy

  • Dart

    For the record “Audition” scared the shit out of me. The movie had atmosphere, and plenty of it. It had mystery, and a main character you generally liked. Little moments (the bag, for instance) had a way of getting to you.

    Which is why I think comparing “Audition” to “Final Destination 4″ is ridiculous and ill-advised. FD 4 is a sequel. It comes in 3-D. Replace the death scenes with sex scenes and you’ve got a porno movie. It’s an inoffensive, mass-produced, distracting piece of fluff. Like a pop can. You pay 10 bucks, put on glasses, watch the thing, then you go home and check your e-mails.

    Let’s not argue over the artistic value of any films here, especially when all the films mentioned (RD, Irreversible, Audition) are, granted, violent, but in no way made with the same intentions. Could you imagine putting on 3-D glasses for Irreversible?

  • Thomas

    Best review ever. These “films”, along with the Saw and Hostel series, are absolute garbage. How anyone can get enjoyment out this junk is simply beyond me. If you are entertained in the slightest by these types of films then you should probably check yourself into a mental institution – there’s probably something wrong with you…

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGE8LzRaySk JoshDM

    @Chris

    Drivers who text while driving deserve to be treated equal to drivers who drink then drive.

    Utah gets it right.

    And all characters portrayed through bad acting/writing, except for it’s use as a comedic device, deserve to die.

  • stryker1121

    People like the FD series to watch assholish slasher archetypes (bimbo, jock, douchebag) get killed. As empty as the FD movies are, others may call it escapism. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong w/ that. There’s plenty of junky action movies (see Commando or Delta Force or Invasion USA) where the bodies stack like cordwood…but those movies are undoubtedly fun just b/c they’re so ridiculously over the top. I think the same principle is at work w/ FD and its ilk. This is not the fall of western civilization here, and Mary Ann’s really overdoing the doom and gloom here.

  • MaryAnn

    And I can tell you why people like movies like this: It provokes a reaction, and I’ll always take a movie that provokes a reaction over one that doesn’t. I don’t like “Saw,” at all, but it sure as shit is a better movie than “The Reader.”

    So, the reaction you seek is one that turns your stomach, not, say, one that provokes you to think about a moral quandary? That doesn’t count as a reaction?

    I’ll bet you ten bucks that the extended rape seen from Irreversible is sitting on porn servers around the world. The creator’s intent and the audience’s reaction are two different things.

    It matters to what *I* get out of a movie.

  • tomservo

    @sara, I wasn’t implying American filmmakers can’t make artistic horror films. John Carpenter’s The Thing is my favorite one.
    I’m not judging the movies, per se, but audience’s reactions. As someone pointed out above, a viewer can get the same sick thrill from the violence and rape of the brilliant Irreversible as the Final Destination movies. I guess I’m trying to counter the commenters who think someone who enjoys films like FD4, Saw, Hostel, etc., have something wrong w/ them. There’s something to be said for dispatching movie characters in interesting and creative ways. One of the reasons District 9 was so successful was because it had cool violence (anyone ever see a man killed by a flying pig before?) The crucial point here is; there just movies. It ain’t real. Sure, there’s perverts and serial killers who enjoy these things for the wrong reason but they’re fucked up to begin with. I doubt anyone here wants to go down the road of blaming movies for the ills of society because that leads us to the Bill O’Reilly school of thinking.

  • Blank Frank

    @Jolly: That would be Stealers Wheel with “Stuck in the Middle With You” not the Steve Miller band.

  • Jolly

    I stand corrected.

  • Grinebiter

    anyone ever see a man killed by a flying pig before?

    No, but maybe one of King Arthur’s men was killed by the flying cow in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”……. Off-screen, though, so I guess that doesn’t count. ;-)

  • MBI

    “So, the reaction you seek is one that turns your stomach, not, say, one that provokes you to think about a moral quandary? That doesn’t count as a reaction?”

    Let’s just say that that wasn’t a reaction “The Reader” got out of me. Sure, it can provoke you to think about a moral quandary, but I think every film is thought-provoking in one way or another. The other day I sat down and wrote 2,000 words about the Hannah Montana movie, doesn’t mean I thought it was any good. “The Reader” failed to make me really feel anything for the characters and it did provide me any scenes worth remembering. But I’m getting off track.

    All right, how about this. Someone mentioned upthread that they could take “Braveheart” but not a slasher movie. Why is that, I’d like to know? Now, I love “Braveheart,” but I don’t think it’s some kind of deep artistic statement, not any more than “300″ is. It’s an entertaining popcorn epic. And it’s brutal as hell. It would be a lesser, and certainly less interesting, film if it wasn’t that grisly. People die in that movie in awful ways, and if you liked it, that means that you are enjoying people dying gory deaths. I don’t see the distinction between that and “Final Destination.”

    Or how about “Snakes on a Plane”? Same guy directed “The Final Destination.” Haven’t seen the new movie yet, but the director also did “Final Destination 2,” and yeah, “Final Destination 2″ and “Snakes on a Plane” are pretty similar-feeling movies. “Snakes on a Plane” is a goofy action comedy, but a lot of people die a lot of really bloody deaths — snake bite on the eyeball, and you’re not only meant to find it “entertaining” but in a lot of cases laugh-out-loud hilarious.

    Oh, and I’m not going to even dignify the idea that “Reservoir Dogs” has some higher artistic goal in mind than slasher movies. (Quentin Tarantino, remember, produced the “Hostel” movies himself.) The idea that “Braveheart” or “Reservoir Dogs” is high-minded art pieces simply comes from the fact that they’re very well-made, not because they’re any deeper.

  • Accounting Ninja

    “Why does Braveheart get a pass?”

    Um, because it 1)doesn’t linger ever so slowly on the deaths and 2)doesn’t prolong intense suffering. Now, the axe-to-the-head scene made me jump. But again, it was quick and mostly offscreen.

    Sorry my distaste of watching suffering offends you so much. Oh wait, no I’m not.

  • mike

    I hate these movies. They excite the hell out of me. I feel my rat brain ooze adrenaline when I hear another one is coming out. It triggers the fear center of my brain, the one the caveman uncle I have needed to flee tigers, cannibals, and lightning. My every need is pushed to me, a young man in the 21st century; I have no daily fears or dreads. Escaping to this horrible world where sexy young people know they cannot escape death funnels my imagination to a place it too cannot escape. It’s gore porn. Disasters are sexualized in my brain. It makes me feel like a monster. Be it shark, snake, disaster, these movies make me horny in the worst way. I’m the guy everyone thinks is a saint, the occult pervert.

  • JoshB

    they could take “Braveheart” but not a slasher movie. Why is that, I’d like to know?

    There are different ways that a movie and its audience can relate to extreme violence. “Braveheart” strives for a kind of realism. It says “violent battles happened, and this is what they looked like.” Movies like “Snakes on a Plane,” or one of my favorites of this ilk “Freddy vs. Jason” go the opposite direction, by making the violence so cartoonish as to completely remove it from the reality of human suffering.

    Torture porn ala Final Destination occupies a perverse middle ground where we’re expected to take the violence seriously, but rather than be appalled we’re supposed to enjoy it. People go to these movies for the pleasure of watching strangers die in agony. That’s one good reason why the characters in these movies are always so cardboard. If the audience cared for these people then the emotional response would be genuine horror, compassion, empathy, and when you’re looking for a good time out at the movies none of those emotions is acceptable. Not to this audience.

  • stryker1121

    I don’t like the term ‘torture porn’ b/c it gets tossed around so easily…FD is not torture porn…the deaths are quick and brutal, no lingering shots of suffering, just the anticipation of “how’s it gonna happen?” I suppose that’s the allure of horror movies for some people…the tingly anticipation of seeing something horrible play out on screen, with the payoff being an elaborate, bloody kill. I personally don’t like horror movies…i don’t like that awful anticipation…but i can sit thru blood-soaked action, war and sci-fi flicks, and I love horror novels. Weird how that works.

  • MaryAnn

    You’ll note that I did NOT use the term “torture porn” for *FD4,* because I don’t think it is. But it IS death porn.

    Now, I love “Braveheart,” but I don’t think it’s some kind of deep artistic statement, not any more than “300″ is.

    There is a middle ground, though, between art films and death/torture porn. *Braveheart* and *300* are popcorny, but they’re also about more than just watching people die. *Braveheart* may not be a “deep artistic statement,” but it IS about the lengths that people will do to right what they perceive as an injustice (to name just one theme there). *300* may not be a “deep artistic statement,” but it IS about the power of reputation and the stories we tell about ourselves.

    On the contrary, though, there simply is *nothing* to *FD4* beyond watching people die. Even the bit of satire on horror movies that *FD1* offered is completely thrown aside here.

    If I’m wrong — if there’s more to *FD4* than I saw — I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.

  • Jolly

    stryker1121 is on to something:

    People like the FD series to watch assholish (my emphasis) slasher archetypes (bimbo, jock, douchebag) get killed.

    People do enjoy seeing violence to others, at least in a fantasy context, especially when there is a notion that the receivers are getting their due. FD4 may have a limited scope, but I suspect that the popular appeal of the other movies that MaryAnn is trying to defend is derived from that same basic love of violence.

  • tomservo

    I’m serious about this, watching people die can be a legitimate form of entertainment. This isn’t Faces of Death, it’s fiction. Creative ways of killing off movie characters is a hallmark of some of the best movies of all time. Why do we have to hide behind making excuses for it? Just be honest.

  • JoshB

    stryker1121 is on to something:

    People like the FD series to watch assholish (my emphasis) slasher archetypes (bimbo, jock, douchebag) get killed.

    Yup. Dehumanization is always a prerequisite for the sadistic pleasures.

  • Jolly

    Dehumanization is always a prerequisite for the sadistic pleasures.

    Yeah. Introduce the baddie, show him do some nasty stuff, and then give us all a thrill by dispatching of him in the appropriate manner.

  • Jolly

    I’m serious about this, watching people die can be a legitimate form of entertainment. This isn’t Faces of Death, it’s fiction. Creative ways of killing off movie characters is a hallmark of some of the best movies of all time. Why do we have to hide behind making excuses for it? Just be honest.

    I agree with you, to a point. As I’ve tried to indicate, I think most audiences want some kind of justification for the killing before they get behind it. As stryker1121 suggests, some may not require that justification to be established within the movie. I don’t really understand the point of the distinctions that MaryAnn is trying to make. My guess is that the audiences for 300 and the Tarantino movies overlap with that of FD4 and that they generally don’t care about the themes that she seems to think make the former but not the latter acceptable. I’m more interested in whether the graphic violence we see so regularly now is necessary for effective story telling.

    Snyder butchered his adaptation of Watchmen by portraying violence in a cartoonish manner, effectively undercutting one of the point of the source material. Of course, given the direction that comics went in the wake of the original mini-series, it’s pretty clear that the original audience missed the point as well.

  • Ana

    MAJ: Please, don’t take this the wrong way. Don’t you have any guilty pleasures at all? Things that are “below” your standards? Like reading trashy mags or watching wrestling matches? Or you just watch geeky stuff like Dr.Who and artsy inde movies all the time? I believe movies like FD or Saw are guilty pleasures. Few people admit they like them but they can’t get enough of them. Don’t overthink it, really. It’s no social phenomenon or anything that can analyzed by means of genre studies.

  • Muzz

    The horror nuts come out in defense of this and utter garbage like Saw, but not so often for something like Drag Me to Hell witch is much better made from all accounts.

    I don’t get it. Is it a generational thing? DMH is too old school and bloodless?

    Anyway, while not great, I like the first one of these for its cheesy reversal of horror tropes; spooky black guy explains that “death” is coming to get you etc. It has that great “Now wait a minute” scene where they guy becomes very safety conscious and removes all the sharp and dangerous things from the room, the gag being, of course, that since death is kinda coming for you all the time what is this movie about? It’s a nice little joke I thought.
    The sequels are all about Tom and Jerry chain reactions of increasing complexity. You can’t stretch that premise without burying everything that made it interesting in the first place with piles of convenient supernatural mumbo jumbo.

  • amanohyo

    Ana, read her review of Wolverine. Everyone has guilty pleasures, but you have to admit there’s something a little odd about being entertained by people getting tortured and killed (often by being penetrated against their will with plenty of moaning and screaming and heavy breathing of course).

    I understand that these movies manage to give many people a visceral “fight or flight” reaction somewhat like a roller coaster or skydiving. If the acting and writing were better, and I cared about the plot, and I wasn’t an introspective easily-distracted misanthrope, and I was about twenty years younger, and the special effects were convincing, and the directors were talented, maybe my pulse would quicken too. But even if it did, there wouldn’t be any pleasure to feel guilty about.

    The critics of these movies are not denying the existence of guilty pleasures; we all have them. The thing that’s confusing is that people find anything pleasurable at all in the experience. It’s as if someone told you that hot-pepper-eating contests made them happy, only replace hot-pepper eating with suffering people-watching. It’s like some weird sadomasochistic shadenfreude that tries to get you to simultaneously identify with the sufferers (“what would I do in that situation?” thoughts), and also keep their artificiality in mind (because clearly if it wasn’t just special effects and actors in a movie, you’d have to be some kind of sicko to enjoy it). Unfortunately (fortunately?), because most of these movies don’t have the balls/ovaries to be genuinely disturbing, they have terrible production values all around and just end up being boring.

    But maybe I’m the inhuman one for not being curious about the last moments of those poor CGI chickens. I can’t identify with them, and I can’t respect any killer or God who would amuse him or her or itself by torturing cutouts that don’t even deserve to be called characters. It’s as if you happened to see a clueless toddler destroying his GI Joes (and ripping the limbs off of Barbies). Sure, you wouldn’t know exactly what precise methods he would employ or which toys would end up broken by the time he was done, but why would anyone but the toddler really care (other than to suspect that somethin’ ain’t quite right about that boy)?

  • Grinebiter

    @Amanohyo: APPLAUSE.

  • Bill

    “The sequels are all about Tom and Jerry chain reactions of increasing complexity.” – Muzz

    I thought that worked well enough in the second one. There were some nifty deaths and I think I remember it being kinda funny, too. Not sure. It’s been a while. Number 3 was a drag. You don’t have to be all that clever to dream up a few Rube Goldberg death scenarios. That’s all I’m askin’ for here…some clever expirations. Use the script from FD2 for all I care. No one’s listening. Anywho, I think the DVD’s are set up so one can simply view the the death scenes without having to endure the packing peanuts.

  • MaryAnn

    People like the FD series to watch assholish (my emphasis) slasher archetypes (bimbo, jock, douchebag) get killed.

    But *everybody* dies here. Even the “nice” characters who don’t “deserve” it.

  • MBI

    “If I’m wrong — if there’s more to *FD4* than I saw — I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.”

    There’s always more to a movie than can be smugly dismissed as “‘blank’ porn,” including porn. The “Final Destination” movies, particularly the ones directed by David R. Ellis (two and four), are about dehumanization in the face of incomprehensible cosmic forces, much like the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies are. Death has reduced you to a cog in a ridiculous-looking death trap. It’s a Ben Stiller-style humiliation comedy taken to its logical extreme. You laugh because it’s ludicrous, but it’s scary because if something like this happened to you, what do you do? Tell Death his machinations look stupid? Everyone inside the movie doesn’t have that perspective, they have to take this stuff deadly serious because it happens to them. None of this makes these films good or watchable, mind you — I could also write buckets about “Saw” and “Hostel,” and I *hate* “Saw” and “Hostel.” But I will defend “Final Destination 3″ until the day I die. I’ve already described my favorite scene from this movie upthread — many of the characters are death fodder, but I really do believe that a lot of them also felt like very real teenagers, and that it was exceedingly well-directed.

    But wait a minute, so what if they didn’t? You’re telling me that you really came to know and care about Harry Dean Stanton before that Xenomorph chomped him in “Alien”? Or Detective Arbogath before Norman Bates’s mom sent him down that flight of stairs? Or that girl from the opening scene of “Jaws”? These people all existed only to be killed, I was waiting for them to be killed, I had no illusions that they mattered except to be killed, and when you saw it, you enjoyed it as much as I did. (Or you don’t like “Psycho,” “Alien” and “Jaws,” in which case I ain’t got shit to say to you.) And if you did, you’re not objecting that “The Final Destination” kills characters whose only purpose is to die, you’re objecting either that 1) it doesn’t do those scenes very well or 2) it doesn’t do scenes other than those very well. But if you liked the scene where Harry Dean Stanton gets eaten, can’t you at least see a little of why people enjoy “Final Destination”? And if you can’t, why would you be watching “Alien”?

    As far as “not liking watching people suffer,” well, suit yourself. That’s fine, I guess. But you all also presumably root for the bad guys in outlaw movies — you rooted for Bonnie and Clyde, you rooted for Ned Kelly and John Dillinger and the Inglorious Basterds (and let’s face it, the psychopathic, terrorist war criminal Basterds are the heroes of that movie), and so on. On a different board I visit, there’s a woman who constantly hectors people for wanting to enjoy patently amoral movies like “Inglourious Basterds” and “Public Enemies.” I’m as baffled at her as I am here. If people want to argue at me that “Final Destination 4″ is bad because it’s badly made, stupid, and boring, those are charges worth debating — if they want to argue that it’s hateful, cruel and evil, my response is “So what?”

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t like “Drag Me to Hell” very much. Too goofy.

  • tomservo

    @MBI, well said. Everyone engages in hypocrisy on some level but can’t stand to admit it.

  • stryker1121

    I’m with MBI–Correct me if I’m misreading this, but the only distinction MaryAnn and a few others seem to be making is that the FD movies are “bad” b/c their violence is ensconsed within a shallow film-going experience. Put simply, these movies are “stupid,” hence the violence is all the more reprehensible. Meanwhile, high-minded flicks like Braveheart get a pass b/c the bloodshed has a supposedly deeper meaning. That kind of thinking doesn’t make much sense to me.

    I don’t think the gulf is so wide between watching, and even “enjoying,” charging armies collide in Braveheart or Lord of the Rings and getting a thrill out of some cardboard cut-out jock stereotype’s decapitation by a flying lawnmower blade. Don’t know about you, but my pulse quickened during the battle of Helm’s Deep, and my favorite scene in Aliens is that terrifying, thrilling first encounter w/ the creatures where half the Space Marines are dispatched. Does that make me a sadistic weirdo who’s titillated by falling bodies, or just someone who enjoys a good fictional battle scene?

    Just b/c I don’t like horror movies, I don’t begrudge people who derive similar “pleasure” out of watching Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers or Death Itself (in FD’s case) do their up-close-and-personal dirty work. Like MBI, I admit I would be harder pressed to defend Hostel or Saw, or some of the brutally crazy underground shit that comes out of Japan or Europe…that’s another topic altogether…however I do not think it applies to the FD series or similar movies.

  • Jolly

    Thanks, MBI. I was going to mention the implications of the retro toy machine gun ad from a few days back or the cardboard Stormtroopers in the Star Wars movies, but you’ve saved me the trouble.

  • Erin

    You can’t honestly tell me that most people watch Star Wars because they want to get enjoyment out of the stormtroopers dying. It couldn’t have anything to do with investment in the story or characters….

    That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with enjoying the FD movies or getting a rush during any of the battle scenes mentioned above. However, that doesn’t mean that all violence in any movie is used for the same purpose and is therefore comparable. It’s the difference between violence and death being the primary concern of the film (and not in any deeper analysis of why violence is perpetrated) and violence and death being a sideline to a larger story, which I think is the point MAJ’s trying to make.

  • Jolly

    @Erin

    The simulated violence is an integral part of Star Wars. I never claimed that watching stormtroopers was the main reason that people watched the movie. But don’t tell me that a sizable portion of the audience didn’t enjoy watching the troopers get shot. And talk about dehumanization…we never even see the Stormtroopers’ faces.

  • Erin

    Fine, that may be true that some section of the audience enjoys the stormtroopers getting shot. But, my point is that that is not the primary reason why most people enjoy Star Wars. If you go to something like FD, you’re going to watch blank slate people get killed, and that is ALL that you could possibly get out of it. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong about that or that the people who go to these movies are sadists, but it’s not the same thing as the violence that occurs in Star Wars. If you choose to, there are other things to focus your attention on other than death and violence. In FD, you haven’t got much choice because that’s all that the movie has to offer.

    And by the way, you’d be hard-pressed to find any kind of adventure story where people aren’t killed. Whether you think that that is dehumanizing or not is probably another question entirely.

  • Michael

    One tool for making distinctions: Does the gruesome deaths and horrific fates of the characters serve the story, or are the gruesome deaths and horrific fates the story itself?

  • spinal

    I understand why the reviewer is confused anyone enjoyed this, even though I’m a BIG horror fan and I’ve seen every movie in this series. I liked the first two installments and found the third stupid yet funny and harmless. This one was unpleasant for me though, and I can imagine a non-horror fan having a stronger negative reaction.

    First, the central premise is empty. Part of the catharsis of horror is watching the struggle for survival. What makes the first FD (and any good horror movie) fun is the possibility of escape. You know a lot of people will die, but you don’t know who will survive to the end or how. Even the second FD maintained suspense about the possibility of cheating death. This far along, you know it’s a closed loop. Any exposition or action is filler because everyone’s going to die. These characters live in a hopeless universe with no chance of escape or intelligent threat response. That’s not fun, it’s depressing and boring.

    Also the quality of the script and actors has plummeted. The FD franchise was never Oscar material but the acting is so horrifically wooden here, the logical conclusion is these people are just blood bags. They don’t even pretend to engage the viewer emotionally or offer anything beyond their stupidity and their flying limbs and guts. The opening credits prove this. Those cheesy digital X-ray images of all the injuries are bold faced admissions these ‘characters’ are just bodies up for vivisection. The filmmakers are broadcasting THERE IS NO STORY HERE. It’s cynical and insulting to the viewer, and the constant product placement just makes it worse.

    So please don’t compare this to Audition or Salo or Cannibal Holocaust because these ‘shock films’ were still story-driven, and the filmmakers at least TRIED to shoot for a reaction beyond “Eww” and “I’d love a Diet Coke right now.” Even though this is fake and corny, it’s a lot closer in spirit to execution/snuff videos. The only reason you’d enjoy this is because you enjoy watching depersonalized human bodies being ripped apart. The film offers nothing else. This reaction is fine, but call a spade a spade – it’s an antisocial fascination. I believe everyone has a bit of a sociopathic side and it’s okay. But unless you’re actively looking to explore it, why would you enjoy this movie?

    I will say the 3D effects were well done, and between that and the lack of plot what was left for me was the sensation of having raw meat hurled in my face for 75 minutes. The movie is no fun, presents no challenge and asks the viewer for nothing more than passive disgust – which you can all get for free by staring at roadkill. Or try the raw meat thing in the backyard. Either way save your $16.

  • Accounting Ninja

    spinal, I enjoyed your comment very much!

  • Jurgan

    What’s the deal with that screencap? I can’t figure out what I’m seeing. It looks like the woman’s being rained on, which makes me think of The Shawshank Redemption, and I’m sure this movie is just like that.

  • Jason M.

    As far as “not liking watching people suffer,” well, suit yourself. That’s fine, I guess.

    That’s fine, you guess? You mean you don’t know for sure that it’s perfectly acceptable not to want to see people come apart?

    Self, suited.

  • MBI

    “You mean you don’t know for sure that it’s perfectly acceptable not to want to see people come apart? ”

    You know what, I change my mind. “Not wanting to see people suffer” is an cowardly and unchallenging approach to watching movies, so no, it’s not fine.

  • Accounting Ninja

    You know what, I change my mind. “Not wanting to see people suffer” is an cowardly and unchallenging approach to watching movies, so no, it’s not fine.

    *snerk* Seriously? So, you can call me cowardly for not liking gross gore for the sole sake of gore, but I can’t call you a fucking psycho for getting your rocks off on all the bloody death. See what I just did there? Pretty narrow-minded of me, wasn’t it?
    You seems to conflate the suffering people here are talking about with regular plot conflict where sometimes characters suffer. If I said I didn’t like my movies to have any conflict, suffering of any kind, drama, then indeed that would be cowardly. Some of my favorite movies include the Alien series and Terminator 1&2, as well as plenty of R rated stuff, so it’s not like I’m over here watching damn fluffy bunny bible camp videos.
    Enlighten me, MBI: why is it so important that I enjoy basically what serial killers see, hear and feel during their escapades? Or see machines rend human flesh asunder while the victims are milked by the camera for every sweet ounce of their terror at dying. If you REALLY don’t see the difference between the violence in the movies I mentioned above and this kind of voyeuristic violence, and want to call me a “hypocrite”, then *I* don’t have anything to say to you either.
    I don’t like it. I don’t feel thrilled or like laughing or any of that shit. I just feel sick. And I don’t have to justify it to a stuck up snob who wants to call people like me cowardly. Even a geek like me can accept that some people don’t like sci-fi but I don’t sit here and sniff my hipster nose at them and claim they haven’t really enjoyed movies if they don’t like it. Jesus tapdancing christ.

  • JoshB

    You know what, I change my mind. “Not wanting to see people suffer” is an cowardly and unchallenging approach to watching movies, so no, it’s not fine.

    Does that mean that you consider yourself courageous because you do want to see people suffer? Is that really the dichotomy here? Between the cowards and the brave?

  • spinal

    @ MBI -

    I don’t think we’re afraid of watching people suffer (I for one love horror and shock films) but watching personality-free bodies suffer in the service of an offensively stupid story is NO FUN. Did you even watch this movie you’re defending? Can you honestly say you enjoyed the wooden acting, stilted dialogue and stereotypical characters, or did you silently pray for more 3D guts in your face to break the monotony? I mean get real, this crap made Final Destination 3 look like freaking Citizen Kane.

    Stop moving the goalposts and pretending this is about people’s Puritanical repression of violence in film. It’s about people’s legitimate annoyance with meaningless violence in rubbish films. Nobody is hating on Ichi the Killer or Saving Private Ryan here.

  • http://law.ufl.edu Frank from UF

    Maybe (hopefully) watching this “death-porn” is cathartic for weirdos and creepers. Or maybe it’s just a turn-on…

  • MBI

    Well, let’s see:

    “Does that mean that you consider yourself courageous because you do want to see people suffer?”

    Not really — it just seems like a bare minimum that you not immediately tune out of a movie just because it invokes unpleasantness.

    “I don’t think we’re afraid of watching people suffer (I for one love horror and shock films) but watching personality-free bodies suffer in the service of an offensively stupid story is NO FUN.”

    Then why do you like horror and shock films? You like them for the *story* and the horror part is incidental, is that what you’re saying? There is no presence and personality in that girl in the opening scene of “Jaws” than there is any random Jason victim — in some cases, she has less. Does that make the opening scene of “Jaws” a bad scene? Does the presence of better-defined (though hardly original or even that memorable) characters later in the movie make that scene good? Would worse scenes after it have made the opening scene bad? Why did you enjoy that scene, assuming you did?

    Can you appreciate a good one-liner in an otherwise bad movie? A decent joke? A well-executed action sequence? But not a good kill sequence?

    “It’s about people’s legitimate annoyance with meaningless violence in rubbish films. Nobody is hating on Ichi the Killer or Saving Private Ryan here.”

    Well, why aren’t they? If you want to complain the movie is stupid, complain that it’s stupid. If you want to complain that it’s boring, complain that it’s boring. But that’s not what’s happening here. People ARE, in fact, complaining about the violence. That’s how this whole “death porn” business came up. No one dismisses “Airplane!” or “Spaceballs” as “joke porn” (and those movie certainly doesn’t do anything good but tell jokes) — the implication is that liking a good joke is fine but liking a good creative kill is inherently wrong, and no, I don’t see why this doesn’t take down “Jaws” and “Alien” and “Psycho” along with “Friday the 13th” and “Final Destination.” MaryAnn apparently can’t figure out how non-sociopaths would enjoy death scenes, which is offensive because she’s smarter than that. I may as well ask how she can be a “300″ fan but not a warmonger. If I wanted to be a troll, I could just look at every action movie she ever gave a thumbs-up to and ask her how much she thinks anyone who’d ever been a real wartime or violent situation would enjoy it.

    “If you REALLY don’t see the difference between the violence in the movies I mentioned above and this kind of voyeuristic violence, and want to call me a “hypocrite”, then *I* don’t have anything to say to you either.”

    Short answer: No, I don’t see the difference. I don’t see the difference in you enjoying John Hurt having a goddamn Alien bust through his chest and any given scene from a Final Destination scene (which, for the record, has death scenes which are for the most part more sudden and painless than John Hurt’s agonizing chest-bursting scene). I think you’re making meaningless distinctions. No matter what you want to say about “Alien,” that death is meant to be as “entertaining” and “diverting” as “Final Destination,” and any attempt to say otherwise is denial, pure and simple. You can’t “voyeuristically” enjoy “Final Destination”‘s death scenes, but then, how are you enjoying “Alien”? “Empathetically”? Which makes your brand of sadomasochism purer and more righteous than those of slasher movies fans? Way earlier in the thread, you wrote, “Sorry my distaste of watching suffering offends you so much. Oh wait: I’m not.” You know, I never said your taste in movies offended me, and at that point, I really don’t feel like I had crossed the line of civil discourse, so your response seemed unwarranted.

    But maybe I’ve crossed that line by now. So I’ll say this: Anyone who has to wonder why people like slasher movies does not have an opinion that has much worth to me. For what it’s worth, I did watch FD4. It’s not very good. It’s officially crossed the line into comedy, which puts it not in the realm of “Alien” or “Jaws” but into Sam Raimi/Peter Jackson territory, which is yet another can of worms that I think a lot of people are ignoring.

  • Jolly

    MBI,

    I’m not sure that we *do* enjoy Kane’s death. I’m not even sure if I can explain *where* the enjoyment of a movie like Alien comes from, though I suspect it has more to do with routing for the characters to escape the dangers that the situation presents, along with an adrenaline high from experiencing danger from a safe distance.

    What I don’t understand is people that want to go after those that enjoy movies like Final Destination, while praising movies like The Stoning of Soraya M. I don’t need to see a graphic recreation of a stoning to know that it’s wrong, and wanting to experience such a thing strikes me as voyeuristic, more than anything else. So where we agree is that that distinctions based on “art” or “story” seem largely self-serving.

  • Jolly

    So after my previous post, I found the “Movie Deaths” webpage, where visiters are invited to vote on their favorite movie death scene.

    http://www.moviedeaths.com/

  • Grinebiter

    @MBI: I am inclined to agree with you, though coming from the opposite direction. Namely, I do not enjoy watching people being killed, eviscerated and whatnot in either Artistic or Inartistic ways. I might put up with it in a film for some other reason, but enjoy the kills I do not. That means I don’t do the slasher franchises, nor do I do horror, except the understated, cerebral kind. With something like Private Ryan, the point of the violence is to communicate the awfulness of the predicament in which a soldier finds himself, we are surely not meant to enjoy it; and I would be sceptical of someone who did.

    To digress for a moment: some of us grew up in the age when Artistic Merit was a defence to a charge of obscenity, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and all that. Then came Camille Paglia, who pointed out that the distinction between pornography and Art was untenable, because Art is and always has been permeated by pornography. (Or eroticism, as we call it when women like it.) The god of Art does not fly away from a work when it becomes pornographic, neither does the god of Pornography only alight upon a work when it is ill-executed. Nude paintings by the Great Masters were for purchasing, hanging privately and jerking off to. And now we hang these oil-on-canvas Playmates — and rape scenes! — in subsidised art galleries, go figure.

    So too, with bloodshed. If we are meant to be enjoying the elaborate and graphic kills, then it is death/torture porn, whether or not it is done very badly or very well. If we want to see the bad guys die, but are content with them being despatched simply, then that is arguably different, just normal mammalian competition. If we suffer empathetically with the victims and do not want to see them die, but they do anyway, then it is something else again, perhaps Aristotle’s catharsis. How would we classify “Alien” here; do we actually “enjoy” (on second viewing) John Hurt being chest-busted? I don’t think that’s obvious.

    This will make me unpopular, but I wish to suggest that justifying the nastiness in terms of artistic merit puts us in the same mental and moral camp as all those fictional villains — and perhaps some less fictional — who expect us to admire their murders and tortures, because they are conducted so Artistically. And who cannot understand why we are reluctant to die horribly so as to demonstrate their Cool.

  • Accounting Ninja

    I’m just going to say that Kane’s death in Alien was NOT meant to entertain the audience like a slasher film. Shock? Sure. It was the first scene in Alien where you start to realize just how horrific the Alien is. Before that point, it was creepy and ominous, but everything was still “okay”…Anyway, I still got that same awful feeling in my stomach when I saw it. I didn’t like his suffering. But, because the plot was interesting and novel at the time, I watched. But apparently this all counts as me making “meaningless distinctions” to you. Like that penis guy Tim, to you a death is a death is a death. Context means nothing.

    Grinebiter summarizes how I feel about movies that may have violence I have to occasionally sit through:

    @MBI: I am inclined to agree with you, though coming from the opposite direction. Namely, I do not enjoy watching people being killed, eviscerated and whatnot in either Artistic or Inartistic ways. I might put up with it in a film for some other reason, but enjoy the kills I do not. That means I don’t do the slasher franchises, nor do I do horror, except the understated, cerebral kind. With something like Private Ryan, the point of the violence is to communicate the awfulness of the predicament in which a soldier finds himself, we are surely not meant to enjoy it; and I would be sceptical of someone who did.

    The reason I responded as I did is because in your previous response, you said, “Braveheart,” for that matter? Why does “Braveheart” get a pass? Just because it doesn’t linger on its faceless extra’s brutal deaths?” pretty much implying that I enjoy death so long as it’s faceless. I never said that, and I don’t. The victim’s identities are not what matters, it’s the way the movie treats the violence. See: context.

    I’ve noticed you tend to do that, take what someone said and sort of twist it, like: “Which makes your brand of sadomasochism purer and more righteous than those of slasher movies fans?” I never said my taste was “righteous” or “pure” (thereby calling yours “dirty” or something?).

    I don’t have a problem with PEOPLE who like slasher films (the films themselves I do not like). I’m not here to dissect their psychology. I have friends who do, but I don’t. I’ve never looked down my nose at them, but I can’t say the same about you:
    “So I’ll say this: Anyone who has to wonder why people like slasher movies does not have an opinion that has much worth to me.”
    “You know what, I change my mind. “Not wanting to see people suffer” is an cowardly and unchallenging approach to watching movies, so no, it’s not fine.”

  • JoshB

    I wish to suggest that justifying the nastiness in terms of artistic merit puts us in the same mental and moral camp as all those fictional villains — and perhaps some less fictional — who expect us to admire their murders and tortures, because they are conducted so Artistically

    But this isn’t what’s happening. The FD movies are not “bad.” They are skillful in exactly the ways that they intend to be. If you say that the characters are two-dimensional, well, you’re right, but that’s not a flaw, it’s a feature.

    MBI, as others have pointed out, John Hurt’s big scene is not meant to be enjoyed in the sense that you seem to be using. The filmmaker’s intent, and the common audience response, is fear, horror, revulsion. You are meant to feel bad for him.

    The FD movies, by contrast, want you to like the death. If the characters escape death, you’re not expected to feel relieved, but frustrated. You are cheering Death on in those movies. You’re rooting for the villain. The pleasure is sadistic, rather than cathartic.

    If you can’t see the distinction there, well, I dunno. I guess we’re at an impasse.

  • Shreck

    Well, this is a challenging topic. A week after the review and there is still valid discussion… and there’s not even any politics or religion involved!

    I’d like to throw my opinion in. From my perspective MBI is trying to assert that it is okay, perhaps even necessary to enjoy cinematic death in movies, and that we all do it, whether conciously or sub-conciously (I’m trying to summarize, forgive me if I’ve failed to do so accurately). I would counter that by suggesting that this fails to fully describe the landscape. There are, of course, extreme positions at both ends of the spectrum, but the common person’s tendency to enjoy violence is far more complex.

    My perspective is that there are a few different groups of people here: First, people who can’t handle gore or violence at nearly any level, people whose sensitivities are so high that they can’t ever see Schindler’s List or Saving Private Ryan or Friday the 13th or even Terminator. The empathizers. These people are rare and, as far as I can tell, getting more rare by the day.

    Second there are the people who adore the death scenes in a movie, the ones who prefer the camera to take it’s time when reviewing something gory. Most slasher fans I know are like this. They want to see bigger and better death scenes, scared out of their skin by the next boogeyman around the corner. Really, though, this is a pretty small group of people too.

    The last group is everyone else. The average group. My perception is that most of these people enjoy violence but also feel guilty about it. This is why movies about zombies or alien bugs or even Nazis getting killed can be “light” or “popcorny.” On the other hand, even if a movie has that same cast of characters but the filmmakers humanize them then that same film would become “heavy” or “challenging.” The violence is identical, but becuase we’re forced to think about a person’s tendency to villanize people outside or societal group our reactions to their death are horror instead of celebration. The average person doesn’t enjoy death scenes, rather they rejoice when their hero (who is remarkably like them) succeeds, especially at the cost of some evil-because-they’re-different zombies/bugs/Nazis, and they are repulsed when their hero (who is remarkably like them) kills a not-so-different-from-me zombie/bug/Nazi, even if it is for the “greater good.”

    All that said, it sound like this has nothing to do with the quality of FD4. It sounds like they failed to create a full piece of cinema. Most people accept that when you write a song it has to contain more than one chord. If you just play one chord, no matter how melodic, it does not make what you’re playing a song. Likewise, when you make a movie it has to do more than one thing. It sounds like FD4 is a one-trick pony.

    Shreck

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    When I watched the first part of the series I liked it. But, I felt sequels are monotonous. Did not Like them.

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