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Latest ‘Final Destination’ is more death porn.

MORE DEATH PORN: 'The Final Destination 3D.'
  • MORE DEATH PORN: 'The Final Destination 3D.'

First of all, it's not “Final Destination IV.” Or “Return of Final Destination.” Or “Bride of Final Destination.” Or “Final Destination Strikes Back.” It's “THE Final Destination.” 3D. Get it straight. That definite article makes all the difference. Remember how big a departure “Fast and Furious” was from “The Fast and the Furious”? Right. We're talking major developments in the franchise here.

I suppose this is the place for a “plot” summary, so here goes. A group of awful twenty-something children avoid a horribly theatrical death through the hackneyed head-fake premonition of one of their number. (Note how this precognitive narrative device allows everyone to die onscreen more than once. In these tough times, that's called stretching a dollar!) Death gets pissed and feels all ripped off. So he-she-it-something conspires to pick said teen-agers off in increasingly complex and ridiculous fashions. To set nature back in balance and such. Because motivation is passe and Death is remarkably petty.

By now we're four deep into this series, and I still don't see how this bilge holds water for so many people. It's the compulsive logic of superstition — knock on wood, writ large. Death clearly doesn't work that way, even in this movie, which is maybe kind of what's so terrifying? Not that our mortality is prey to the whims of a capricious universe, but that this cheap tactic could be used three times in a row and audiences still come back for more? Maybe Death is just a stand-in for an audience whose bloodlust must be satisfied, at the expense of plot or meaning or whatever?

In this and most respects, “THE Final Destination 3D” is exactly like a porno: A series of circumstantially bogus money shots punctuated by half-assed and arguably needless gestures toward plot and character development. (That's something of a belabored point, but it's no less legitimate as a result.) The thing's also a bit like that children's board game, which tempts me to make an obvious corny joke about the franchise's success being all about building a more decadent and soul-pilfering “Mousetrap.” If Rube Goldberg had a morbid streak, his machines would look a lot like this, only more inventive and less ramshackle.

Ultimately, what we have in “THE Final Destination” (3D!) is “CSI” for people who find trash TV far too challenging. The lurid thrill of causality, the triumph of reason over the senselessness of death, is still around. Only here the hows and whys of death are condensed to the pure mechanics of death. To me, the television show's ludicrous way of sewing up its wild plots in the last few minutes always seemed to betray an inherent disgust for reason. “THE Final Destination 3D” only takes that disgust and runs all the way to the bank with it.

Please resist this trash. The best thing I can say about it is that it's a compact 88 minutes in length, so I didn't have to take too much time out of my life to save an hour and a half of yours.

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