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Film review: 'Final Destination' delivers gory death

Bobby Campo as Nick and Shantel VanSanten as Lori are crash survivors stalked by fate in "The Final Destination."
Bobby Campo as Nick and Shantel VanSanten as Lori are crash survivors stalked by fate in "The Final Destination."
Jim Sheldon

THE FINAL DESTINATION — ★★ — Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Mykelti Williamson; shown in 2D and 3D; rated R (violence, gore, profanity, sex, vulgarity, brief nudity, slurs, brief drugs); in general release

"The Final Destination" features the most generic-looking cast of any of the films in the successful horror franchise.

Aside from Mykelti Williamson, whose career has spiraled downward since he appeared in the Oscar-winning 1994 movie "Forrest Gump," few — if any — of these actors would be recognized by the general public.

It turns out that's a smart move, because no one goes into these films expecting character and story development. They're there to see the characters die in complicated, often Rube Goldberg-like, and particularly gruesome fashion.

And this is pretty much standard fare for a "Final Destination" movie, though a 3D version does allow audiences to witness the deaths in a more close-up fashion.

The fourth — and supposedly "final" — installment follows a group of people that narrowly avoided dying during a tragic, fiery accident at an area race track.

One of them, twentysomething Nick (Bobby Campo), had premonitions about the accident and narrowly got his girlfriend, Lori (Shantel VanSanten), out of there as well.

But that doesn't stop fate — and Death — from stalking them and their squabbling friends (Nick Zano and Haley Webb), a mechanic (Andrew Fiscella) and a security guard (Williamson).

Strangely, the survivors appear to be dying in the order they were supposed to perish. So they believe if they can "break the chain," they can prevent their deaths.

Methods and locations for the deaths this time include a rehabilitation pool, a swimming pool, various vehicles and a shopping mall escalator. (At least one death is disappointingly "conventional," though, while another suggests that the screenwriter may have been reading Chuck Palahniuk.)

Director David R. Ellis (who also made the second film in the series) keep things moving at a pretty good clip. This goofily inventive splatter film won't convert any new audiences, but it will probably please the series' fans.

"The Final Destination" is rated R and features strong, often disturbingly violent content and imagery (including crushings, impalings, vehicular, fiery and explosive mayhem, and violence against women), graphic gore and blood, strong sexual language (mostly profanity), a brief sex scene, suggestive language and vulgar gestures, brief female nudity, racial slurs and other derogatory language, and brief drug references (painkillers). Running time: 82 minutes.

e-mail: jeff@desnews.com