Final Exam is seemingly the prototype of 1980s slasher, attempting to cash in on the successes from Halloween and Friday the 13th, and in this instance, it doesn’t work… at all. I don’t have a problem with bloodless horror movies or ones with a low body count so long as the other scenes provide some sort of character development or building up of suspense, which doesn’t happen here.
Shout Factory | R – 89 min. – $24.97 | May 13, 2014
THE MOVIE – 0.5/5
“Some may pass the test… God help the rest.” Great tagline. The movie? Not so much.
Ah, the 1980s and horror where every movie attempted to emulate the success that was 1978’s Halloween and in the process, there were a slew of slashers that seemed to try to copy Friday the 13th as well (they even duplicated the poster for crying out loud!), which in itself was trying to ride on Halloween’s coattails, and one of those early entries was the (for good reason) forgotten Final Exam, a movie so dull it was hard to even get through the 89-minute running time.
The story follows a group of college students whose names I won’t bother mentioning as they have thin and/or annoying personalities but include the bookworm (CECILE BAGDADI), the smart kid/nark (JOEL RICE), the beautiful slut (DEANNE ROBBINS), the jock (RALPH BROWN), the frat house leader (JOHN FALLON) and the frat pledge loser (TERRY FALLON).
Arriving on campus is an unnamed – and unmasked – killer (TIMOTHY RAYNOR) fresh off killing two coeds at “March College” and has come for more bodies… but before that, we get to see these young adults: take exams, chat about boys/girls, break into offices to steal tests, meet the yodel town sheriff and all the shenanigans you’d expect from a teen adult comedy. It takes a good 50-minutes, well over half-way through, before the Killer stalks his prey and like in any good slasher manages to be in two or three places at the same time, arrive in locations for their victim to run into them (like pouncing out of a barrel) and kill in the most mundane ways with no motivation or history.
Ok, I might not be the biggest fan of the slasher subgenre but Final Exam is so bad on so many levels. First, the acting, all from I can tell by first-timers, is terrible though they’re not helped by stilted dialogue and paper-thin clichéd characters whose only existence is to be slaughter for the mundane and not-scary killer made worse by having no background. But the worst thing of all is it’s just a dull-ass movie where nothing happens after the opening, and a solid 45-minutes, during which we learn nothing about the characters and the suspense is non-existent and we instead get the boring and unfunny version of Animal House, sans talent.
There’s really very little I liked about Final Exam and it’s deserving of being forgotten especially when it makes the Friday the 13th movies, crap sequels included, look like absolute masterpieces by comparison. I realize others might (and do) get something out of this, but I found it to be a chore to get through.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
All the features from the previous Code Red DVD release were ported over:
Audio Commentary features cast members Joel Rice, Cecile Bagdadi and Sherry Willis-Burch moderated by horror fans Julia Marchese and Darren Miller. It’s an enjoyable track even for those, like myself, who didn’t care very much for the movie.
Also included are Interviews with Joel S. Rice (6:47), Cecile Bagdadi (3:43) and Sherry Willis-Burch (4:58); and the Theatrical Trailer (1:31).
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Final Exam arrives for its Blu-ray test courtesy of Shout Factory. The high-def transfer has been culled from the original camera negative providing for good detail levels, black and darker scenes are fairly stark and don’t show any splotch or large grain but it’s hardly perfect as there are dust marks and even minor tears (in one scene). But considering the film’s age and how cheaply (and quickly) it was made, plus seeing the original footage in the trailer, it’s quite the feat the studio did in making it look as good as it does.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
The disc comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track which serves the movie well enough showing off the horrendously bad music score which attempts to imitate John Carpenter’s music in Halloween including the classic waterphone which the composer uses to the extreme, annoyingly so at times, yet it’s also amusing as it is old school horror.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
Overall, Final Exam is seemingly the prototype of 1980s slasher, attempting to cash in on the successes from Halloween and Friday the 13th, and in this instance, it doesn’t work… at all. I don’t have a problem with bloodless horror movies or ones with a low body count so long as the other scenes provide some sort of character development or building up of suspense, which doesn’t happen here.
The Blu-ray released by Shout Factory has a good and updated transfer and the lossless audio track is adequate and certainly an upgrade over previous DVD releases.