Reviewing The Final Curtain: Bubble, Bubble, Drama Geeks in Trouble
By Desmond Reddick
18 December 2006 — Feeling a little down after last week's torture porn adventure, I settled in at home, sighed an unhappy little sigh and pressed play on a film called The Final Curtain. Honestly, I didn't have high hopes for this one, but I was pleasantly surprised by this independent effort. I have been disillusioned with the slasher sub-genre for a few years now, but I wasn't bothered this time. The latest release from IndieHorror.com and Highlander Films, The Final Curtain, won't challenge your perceptions of the genre or even really get you thinking, but this isn't the kind of thing you expect in a genre that considers Sleepaway Camp a classic. Instead, it covers all the bases in a well-cinematographed and decently acted slasher.
In The Final Curtain, a troupe of university drama students in the midst of rehearsing for a performance of Macbeth decide to unwind by breaking into the basement of the university and party. As it turns out, one of the students (the Dean's son) is a bit of a date rapist who decides, along with his girlfriend, to drug and rape the new girl, Angela. Of course, things go horribly wrong and Angela dies... twice. Weird, I know.
After hiding the body, the rest of the gang gets picked off one by one until the final surprise ending makes you go, "Whuh?" It's nothing new, but it doesn't pretend to be. I rarely enjoy formulaic films such as this, but The Final Curtain is endearing in a way. Campus security guards have to be creepy (have you ever met one who isn't?) and adults are always suspect, and in this way there is hardly a cliché found in 80s slasher films that isn't covered here. It has the look and feel of Prom Night or the aforementioned Sleepaway Camp, the exterior shots of the university make me think of Black Christmas, the music is creepy and reminiscent of the genre's best, it's funny at times and pays homage to the slasher genre as a whole.
The best part about this one is that it is a relatively slow burn. It isn't bathed in blood or reliant on gore. It is psychological and the acting is better than most Hollywood slashers cast with faux teenagers pulled straight from The CW. The comedy is not out of place and, at times, a bit of a relief.
I was delighted to discover that the director, Jeff Burton, also directed Dead End Road, another good indy film from a few years ago with murders based on Poe stories. While I enjoyed Dead End Road, I liked The Final Curtain much more because it shows how the director has improved his skills since then.
If I had to gripe, I would complain about the casting of Glenn Shadix — he of Beetlejuice and Seinfeld fame is sorely out of place as the head of security. It is also a little weird to have a comedic actor in a horror film, but not include him in the funnier moments. While I understand having a recognizable actor in an indy horror film can help muster up some interest, I doubt that there are many Glenn Shadix fans clamouring to see him out there. Despite that one little bump, the casting takes a far better turn with veteran B-movie actors Reggie Bannister (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-tep) and Jason Carter (Babylon 5), and the rest of the cast is wisely rounded out by unknowns.
While the film is currently in post-production, it is sure to be a fun watch when it comes out.