Final Exam, on the surface, is yet another sociopath running amok on a college campus flick, which proliferated like locusts in the 80s and eventually became just as welcome at multiplexes. There’s a reason the genre’s pulse weakened.
However, this one is in a somewhat different league, even if its starting roster is the same.
Re-Animator had a Man in a Pan and Final Exam has Men in a Van, frat gag guys skulking about Lanier College, populated by the usual assortment of jocks, nerds, flakes, wiseacre profs and students inexplicably compelled to take Introductory Chemistry when their major is Advertising.
Seems Lanier’s got lofty academic standards and doesn’t offer those compulsory Rocks for Jocks-type bird courses to get folks outside of their college major comfort zones.
It shows how far removed we are from Virginia Tech when the van guys’ idea of a prank is to burst out of the vehicle in the center of campus with ski masks and machine guns. Whoa. Didn’t see that one coming. And as far as red herrings go, that one’s a doozy. No catch and release there.
But everything else is fairly telegraphed.
Like any self-respecting 80s horror, there’s short shorts, a cute girl, a make-out point, and a rebuffed boyfriend caught in the near-act by a killer with impeccable timing. And naturally, there’s a frat guy overstepping propriety with pledge abuse. Is Gamma the best on campus?! Perhaps, if you’re a deferential sheep seeking Greek letter validation from alpha-males.
“I don’t like their hazing and all…Last year a girl killed herself because a sorority girl didn’t accept her.”
Also awful, Final Exam has a blatant Halloween rip-off as its main theme, as coeds are being hunted down by a mysterious killer (as a side note, the composer is also responsible for the main theme of The World Poker Tour).
Don’t go “all in” with Final Exam.
As an alternative, check out the wacky indie horror, Pledge Night.
**1/2 (out of 5)