Friday, December 21, 2012

The Final and its Cousins

I would like to take this moment to talk about a movie called Head Hunter.  It is amazing.  It is tense and really wasn't sure what was going to happen next more than a couple of times.  There were also some pretty beautifully shot moments.  Good stuff!  Go see it.  I don't really have anything more to say on the subject so now we will return to a subject that I have plenty to say on.  The Final.

The Final is a horror movie from 2010 where a bunch of kids who are picked on by other kids get revenge by gathering them all up at a party, torturing some of them, and then the movie ends.  It is very specifically a horror movie but it tries to do a little more than that.  Most of the outcast kids have difficult home lives which makes dealing with their problems at school all the more difficult.  They do a good job establishing that some of the kids really do deserve to have some bad things happen to them whereas some of the other people just got in the way.  On an interesting note this has the same basic idea behind the school shooting but in a more targeted sadistic environment.

As a result this movie shuffles up awkwardly to a genera of movies that are all better than The Final.  When you look at movies like Elephant, Bully, and There's Something About Kevin, and then you look back at the Final you see a group of movies that express their ideas in a much more effective way but it is important to realize that The Final is a horror movie and it puts its heart more in that realm rather than social commentary.  This isn't a complaint or a slight against the movie but it is also something that happened.

You might notice that I didn't mention the movie Heathers, or some of the other bully revenge movies and this is because I am making a pre/post Columbine distinction.  Columbine changed the discussion in a fundamental way in the same way 911 changed our discussion of terrorism.  Setting There's Something About Kevin aside as it is more about nature/nurture than the resulting violence The Final sits comfortably between Elephant and Bully in terms of the moral spectrum.  Elephant provides the viewer with a mystery.  The shooters weren't particularly bullied, in fact we don't learn very much about the shooters at all.  The nature of the violence is arbitrary and there are pleanty of people who get hurt even though they don't deserve it.  Bully is a very different sort of movie.  The Bully is pretty much a sociopath who rapes and beats everyone around him until they reach their breaking point.  So the group of people he abuses get together and murders him.  These movies are both excellent and very much worth your time.

The way The Final fits between these two movies is interesting.  First of all it is a group of outcasts who are all pretty specifically bullied.  They aren't bullied to the same degree as they are in Bully but it is pretty bad and they pretty much have nowhere to turn to for help.  As the movies main dooshbag says, "You know why I do what I do?  Because you can't stop me." and he's right.  He always has a lacky with him so that he almost always outnumbers the person he's picking on.  It is pretty clear that everyone in the group is in a pretty miserable situation, and so they are backed into a corrner so far that they lash out.  There is a particularly good moment when Dane talks about how being bullied actually empowered him to commit these acts of violence.  How he wanted nothing more to be left alone and to fade into the background.  It is an interesting moment and it is one of my favorite in the movie itself. 

More and more our spree killings are being perpetrated by the specifically mentally ill.  However, looking back to Columbine that wasn't the case so much.  In all that time we have failed to really come to terms with the way we treat each other, the way we allow others to be treated, and the hatred in our own hearts.  It is a good movie that becomes better when it shares the same critical space as Bully and Elephant.  Though if you make a weekend of it prepare for a bout of depression as all three of these movies are pretty intense.

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