Final Examination (2003)

Starring Brent Huff, Kari Wuhrer, Debbie Rochon, Amy Lindsay, and Richard Gabai

Directed by Fred Olen Ray (using a pseudonym)

This is a film with a serious identity crisis. It’s not really a slasher movie or an erotic thriller or a murder mystery or a softcore porn movie, although it has bits and pieces of each but not enough to fall into one particular category. It is all of the above and yet it is none of the above. Final Examination is a Frankenstein’s monster comprised of parts of each of these genres. But whereas Frankenstein’s monster actually came to life, Final Examination just sits on the slab without as much as a few muscle twitches. I know what you’re thinking. How could a movie directed by Fred Olen Ray and produced by Albert Pyun and Andrew Stevens possibly border on being unwatchable? Hey, they even found a way to make gratuitous nudity completely boring too. If there’s any one thing about Final Examination that speaks volumes it’s the fact that Fred Olen Ray chose to use an alias rather than be credited with making the film. Think about some of the movies Fred Olen Ray has made, then think about this fact I just through out at you, and cringe at how awful the movie must be.

Final Examination opens with a young crying woman driving her car off an overpass. Cue a big explosion. Fade out. Fade in. It’s suddenly five years later.

So now there’s this maverick big city cop that likes getting into overly long, overly dull car chases. According to Dave Davis’ CHUD review of the movie, the car chase scenes were lifted from the Sylvester Stallone remake of Get Carter. Since I’ve never seen Get Carter I can’t vouch for this but they probably were since I kept thinking these chase scenes look like they probably would have cost a pretty penny to produce and this is a movie with so low budget they couldn’t even afford to use squibs for a scene where a character gets gunned down at point blank range.

Anyway, this maverick big city cop finally annoys one too many authority figures so they decide to punish him by transferring him to another precinct – in Hawaii! I really don’t know of that many people who would consider being transferred to Hawaii as punishment.

The film then jumps to Hawaii where a small group of Cinemax After Dark regulars are arriving at a fancy resort for their Class of ’97 college reunion. A five-year reunion, the movie claims. A couple of them must have gotten masters degrees because they looked to be past the age of thirty to me. These ladies have been personally invited to the resort by this Bill Gates’ type that looks like a sleazy version of Henry Thomas so they can appear in a photo spread for a Playboy-type magazine owned by said rich guy.

Around this time we get our first round of gratuitous nudity. We begin with a gratuitous shower scene that only lasts about a minute but feels like it goes on forever. This is followed up with a gratuitous hot tub sex scene that wasn’t filmed in slow motion but sure feels like it was. Like I said, Fred Olen Ray somehow found a way to make gratuitous sex and nudity duller than dirt.

Then it suddenly turns into the lamest slasher flick ever. A masked killer shows up from out of the blue and strangles the woman in the hot tub while her apparently deaf boyfriend fails to here her screaming for her life despite being only a few yards away. Left beside the corpse is a final examination paper. You know this because it has “FINAL EXAMINATION” written on the top in bold print. The paper has the victim’s name on it and an “F” failure grade stamped on it.

You see that cover box with some teases as to what the killer looks like? Damned if I know where they got that from because the killer just looks like a burglar wearing a generic black wrestling mask from about thirty years ago. The box sells the film as if it’s a slasher flick yet there is hardly any slashing.

Our maverick cop now makes his triumphant return to the movie. Joining him is his new partner, Kari Wuhrer, who appears to be bored out of her mind. I do mean that quite literally. Wuhrer gives a performance that screams, “I’m only here because they paid me up front but it still wasn’t enough to make me give a damn.” I honestly kept waiting for Kari Wuhrer to just pass out from sheer boredom. She looks like she could have dropped at any moment. I’m surprised I didn’t pass out from sheer boredom.

And don’t expect Kari Wuhrer to shed any clothes for your viewing pleasure as she’s done in countless other films. She keeps her clothes on except for an utterly pointless dream sequence the maverick cop has that recaps the plot so far while fantasizing about a bikini-clad Wuhrer taking a dip in a pool. Hey, if they couldn’t afford to pay her enough to make her give a damn they surely couldn’t afford to get her to drop her top.

From the moment the two of them show up to investigate Final Examination more or less becomes the worst episode of “Silk Stalkings” ever. Deep dark secrets are uncovered. An entire subplot involving a seedy college professor back in the states plays out. Another lame murder or two takes place and there are one or two more pointless sex scenes that are about as sexually stimulating as a Hallmark Card. All of it is based around that prologue from five years earlier. None of it is the least bit interesting.

Richard Gabai briefly shows up playing the same annoyingly unfunny wisecracker he plays in every movie he appears in. I swear the man is the Rob Schneider of the Z-grade movie set.

Scream Queen Debbie Rochon also shows up and I instantly had her pegged as being the killer because otherwise her character served absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Also, director Fred Olen Ray pretty much tips off the audience to this in her first real scene in the freaking movie. I’ll say this though, Rochon has virtually nothing to do, but at least what little she has to do she does with enthusiasm. I have to give her some credit, as she may be the only person in the whole damn movie that actually seems to give a damn.

Final Examination is almost laughably bad at first but about halfway through, assuming you haven’t turned it off by then and if you’re smart you won’t even have rented it to begin with, you’ll probably just find yourself staring at the screen wondering what in the hell you’re watching and why you’re wasting such precious time doing so.

The last line of dialogue in the movie is “Uh, yeah.” My sentiments exactly.

0 ½ out of 5

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Jon Condit