Final Scream (2001)
"Last one alive, wins."
A group of teenagers stay at a mansion for a murder mystery weekend. But instead of fake blood and pretend deaths, there is a real killer out there trying to add his own little touch to the game.
With the success of Scream in 1996 and the glorious return to life of the slasher film, it was inevitable that a slew of imitators would jump aboard the bandwagon and try and get a piece of the action. Much like the countless Friday the 13th-spawned clones of the 80s, Scream’s legacy was to unleash a torrent of similarly-themed releases upon the unsuspecting fan. Though there were plenty of big budget cinematic wannabes like Valentine and Urban Legend, it’s the low budget end of the spectrum where the results are more visible and more disheartening. Here, we find Final Scream.
Low budget pseudo-homosexual horror film maestro David DeCoteau is the man responsible for bringing the world Final Scream, the nadir of the 90s slasher. Not only content with shamelessly using ‘scream’ in the title, presumably to suggest some sort of link to Wes Craven’s post-modern classic, even the artwork borrows the now-redundant collection of brooding head shots from the young cast glaring menacingly at the prospective viewer. This tactic might work when you’ve got famous names on your poster to advertise and then kill off early in your film but with the bunch of nobodies that Final Scream assembles, it’s virtually pointless.
Even though the cast is full of no-named actors, sometimes this can work to a film’s advantage by featuring a breakout star who goes on to better things. But the only things that the cast will be going on to here are McDonalds and Burger King where a lifetime of flipping burgers and serving fries awaits them. The token stereotypes on hand for the cast to portray include the usual psychotic ex-boyfriends, bitches, jocks, etc. It was only missing a token black guy and the suite would have been complete! To prove that the writers have seen their fair share of genre films, the script continually throws out references to all of the superior films that we know it’s shamelessly ripping off. Characters being self-aware might work in small doses, or with a clever script writer like Kevin Williamson, but there’s a limit to being clever and being smarmy and the characters here step over it.
Like some of DeCoteau’s other low budget train wrecks (Legend of the Mummy 2), Final Scream seems to be filmed in the same location, most likely his mansion or summer house. The location isn’t great and with the constant strobes going into overtime to double as lightning, there’s a really false atmosphere trying to be constructed. So I guess it’s the perfect location to have a murder mystery weekend. Done far better in April Fool’s Day in the 80s, this McGuffin is back and it’s still a decent structure for a film – the whole “are they just playing around?” shtick works well to create a couple of unpredictable moments. Who is the real killer? Is that fake blood? Is the knife going to retract when the killer stabs someone? And so on. The revelation moments where things are revealed to be false are way more entertaining than the actual legit kills. There’s little real blood, little violence and a couple of quick stabs with the knife, bringing into question why the film was rated so highly.
Though the trend didn’t start with Mr DeCoteau, he doesn’t make any bones about going the opposite way. What am I on about? Well the T&A factor. This new breed of slasher film seems determined to keep the clothes on its female cast members and whilst that’s unfortunately the norm now, it doesn’t mean that these films can go the other way and start stripping down its male cast. That’s just DeCoteau’s work in a heart beat though and like his other low budget drivel, he likes to let his camera linger over the sight of male flesh a little too long.
It seems that a slew of low budget early 00s slashers were in the race to see which one could be worse: Final Scream, Scream Bloody Murder and Do You Wanna Know a Secret? are just a couple of contenders. It’s a close knit race and too hard to call but whatever you do, don’t try and find out for yourself. Final Scream is dull, unexciting and too derivative for its own good but then I don’t expect anything worthwhile from Mr DeCoteau and his history of hack work.
Also Known As: Final Stab
Director(s): David DeCoteau
Writer(s): Matthew Jason Walsh (screenplay by), David DeCoteau (story by), Ryan Carrassi (adaptation)
Actor(s): Jamie Gannon, Melissa Reneé Martin, Erinn Hayes, Laila Reece Landon, Bradley Stryker, Chris Boyd, Forrest Cochran, Michael Lutz
Duration: 81 mins