The Final Terror is a movie notable more for those who star in it than the actual terror that takes place within. Starring Rachel Ward, Joe Pantoliano and Daryl Hannah in one of their earliest roles, they would bring their talents to bear in a film that would be part backwoods slasher and part adventure movie with a dash of horror for good measure.
What is most interesting about this picture is that despite it being a slasher or sorts, there are not a lot of murders within, though some do obviously take place. The cast is a large one and most would naturally assume that they would be killed off until only a couple remain and yet, that does not happen. Instead, the writers and director Andrew Davis buck that trend and deliver something just a little bit different. The film takes place in a forest, where a group of rangers and some friends end up camping and where, slowly but surely, they end up getting killed. It almost goes unnoticed at first, but when people find that some of their friends have not come back, that is when the film finally picks up, the suspense deepens and the horror of their situation truly becomes known.
It is understandable that Davis would want to do something a little different, for there are a lot of movies that fall into the survival horror or backwoods slasher genre and ultimately, this one does work despite the low body count. If taken from the perspective of the campers, one could easily see how frightening the experience would be what with finding those they called friends no longer among the living and then running for their lives before the same thing possibly happens to them. There is some legitimate terror in this film and adding to it is the feeling of the forest closing in on them, surrounding them and not being able to escape while they are being hunted down by some crazed maniac. The reveal of the killer did not really land with any real impact, but the rest of the film did ultimately work thanks to some strong direction and photography and some surprisingly good performances who at the time of the film’s release, were essentially a group of unknowns.
Some might decry the absence of blood or the lack of a more memorable killer and when it was all said and done, the film is not one of those that will be remembered due to some overall weaknesses like character development, but for the most part, The Final Terror is a nice swerve from the familiar giving audiences something different to sink their teeth into.
2.5 out of 5