The Final (2009)

Getting revenge on the high school bullies is every goth teens wet dream, in the past these fantasies have led to massacres such as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s senseless shootings in Columbine High School. These attacks have been discussed and dissected in films such as Heathers and Elephant, but none have been so nasty and without remorse as The Final. The bare bones plot follows a group of tortured teens as they drug, chain, and torture those who have picked on them.

At a glance, the first half of this film is a well shot, if exaggerated, slice of life all too real for many of today’s youngsters. The dialogue may be clunky and the acting may well be atrocious, but these situations will be familiar to almost every single one of us, the key difference is that we will never exact our revenge on those who tormented us. In fact, most of us will grow up to be fairly normal and well adjusted members of society. However, the people in this film are not most of us. Every one of them, on both sides, is a gross caricature designed to make us hate the bullies and feel for the victims. Although, the film shows us that, despite a few threats, the bullies are non-violent. Sure, they say some pretty hurtful things but I find it extraneous that this level of brutal violence is even marginally acceptable, let alone worthy of eliciting cheers from these fuck-ups.

Presented as a high school revenge flick for the Saw generation, the lead revenge-taker goes so far as to wear a gas mask and talk about how the bullies will all have a new lease of life after this event. Sound familiar? He talks for so long with the Scream voice changer that I quickly became bored. Any of the empathy I felt for him and his group just melted away, like the skin of a prom queen. His (AKA the screenwriter’s) need to incessantly explain everything to the Nth degree does more to cheapen the film than its gaudy plot to become “that” film that kids talk about. Elsewhere, the in class scenes show their teacher hammering home every theme in the film literally leaving nothing worthy of discussion remaining.

Amongst the mostly confused script and the oh-so-knowing dialogue (at one point, one of the bitchy girls says “Oh my god, I could die!” when discussing how fat she feels), there was one thing I actually thought was pretty neat. All of the adults who were supposed to be either guardians or role models were presented as faceless, concealed behind a mask of more-important things. The interesting and exciting shooting style is abandoned for the second half, where they opt for a more simple point and shoot method. This could perhaps be a stylistic choice, but as the film descends into yet another “torture porn” flick they not only lost my interest in the plot, but discarded the only portion of the film which showed some potential.

All this makes The Final a reasonably attractive stab at a dirty demographic that revels in its nastiness, and has no concept of the irony contained within it. I might be tempted to think that director Joey Stewart, believes he has made something Haneke-ian in it’s coldness, but seriously lacks ~Michael Haneke‘s aptitude. I recommend everyone just watch Heathers again.

Rating: ★★★★½☆☆☆☆☆

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