A typical high school in the USA, and the usual hierarchy. There are the cool kids, and then there are the outcasts. The cool ones take pleasure in tormenting the outcasts on a daily basis. It's been happening for years. However, the so-called nerds, geeks, dweebs... call them what you will, but they have had enough. They decide to throw a little party for the beautiful ones, and dish out some revenge. It will change the lives of everyone there, whichever side they are on.
Firstly, I must thank Justin Dillon-Shallard for putting me on to this one. The question is, how did this great little flick slip off my radar on its original release?
It could so easily take the easy, lazy route and descend into yet another tiresome torture porn, but this is a film which has so much more to say. It takes a more matter-of-fact and detached view, and rather than exploit or attempt to titillate it simply presents the unfolding events starkly and lets the viewer make their own mind up. The lines between who can take the moral high ground are blurred and the dynamic between the people in each group shifts ever so subtly as things progress. Certainly, although I initially wanted to cheer on the outcasts (or, to me, the interesting people), ultimately they don't elicit unreserved sympathy by any means.
The script by Jason Kabolati admittedly utilises obvious stereotypes, but perhaps that's the point. We can all recognise something of people we have encountered ourselves in the sadistic jocks, the bitchy clique, the ones who don't quite fit in... Only a couple of surplus comedy relief moments spoil the flow. They're amusing enough, but disrupt the uncomfortable atmosphere which has been so carefully built.
The actual punishments metered out, although gruesome are not visually dwelt upon. Once the viewer gets the message, director Joey Stewart doesn't linger and gets on with the next shot. I can think of some better known directors who could benefit from this approach.
The way in which a news crew pops up at the end, and the way in which they report on what we have just seen, is the kind of thing we have all seen too many times in this age of 24-hour rolling news channels. Sadly, real-life incidents like this will happen again all over the world, but if The Final leaves some kind of small legacy, it is this: the next time you hear about a person or persons, somewhere, tipping over the edge and taking extreme measures against others, it just might make you look at the media coverage in a different way.
This is movie which, although not perfect rises well above the pack, and leaves moral questions lingering in the mind long after the credits have rolled. Just as life is rarely, if ever clear cut in terms of who is right or wrong, neither is The Final.
PURPLE RATING: 7.6/10
USA 2010 - Agora Entertainment/Final Fate Features
Certificate - 18 (UK), R (USA)
Blu-Ray/DVD: Chelsea Films (UK), Lionsgate (USA)