Finale / The Ringmaster
Torture filled horror films aren't everyone's cup of tea, with people who argue against them calling them simply "torture porn." Mainstream films like Saw, Hostel, I Spit On Your Grave, and Human Centipede all receive backlash from the public about how the films whole purpose is just to show off gore, blood, and bludgeoned body parts; and while they're not wrong, that's also a fun part of the horror genre: the special effects and how the creative teams utilize them. I've always been a fan of these types of movies, so when I came across a film referred to as "Hostel meets The Purge" I knew I had to give it a go - simply because a mixup of those two movies sounds absolutely fucking sick. The half-English half-Danish flick FINALE - which was released under the name THE RINGMASTER here in the United States - takes the torturous fun of Hostel and throws it into a blender with one room horrors and a creepy clown to get a pretty fun little modern horror flick that does a pretty great job at keeping its audience engaged throughout. The films two stories that are unfolding at the same time are fully entwined with each other and play off each others depravity to give you just enough with every cut as they flip flop back and forth to keep you on edge. If you even slightly enjoyed the basis for Hostel III - the Las Vegas-based chapter of the series - then you'll likely find the same kind of enjoyment in Finale that you did in that franchises third installment; it feels like it's essentially the same concept, just with a seriously sinister clown carrying out the dirty work. Finale is a fun little flick that has a fun story paired with some pretty decent gore (but nothing too crazy nor on the same level as a Saw or Hostel film, if that's what you're hoping for); and while it may not make it onto an essentially Halloween viewing movie list, it's absolutely worth the $2 rental price we paid to check it out and the hour and forty minutes committed to it. It's nothing we haven't seen before, but it's definitely something we don't mind seeing done again and again!
Finale follows the devastating story of the adorable Agnes Berger (played by Anne Bergfeld) as she heads into her final overnight shift at her fathers gas station, where she's set to work alongside her coworker Belinda (Karin Michelsen) on the night of a huge game, so customer traffic should be very low. What starts off as a relatively quiet, normal night ends in panic and dread as two guys - who pays two visits to the 24 hour store - come in and start causing some really unsettling scenes, setting off silent alarms in both girls heads. When the girls begin to notice that someone keeps messing with them throughout their shift - writing on the walls of the car wash or moving gas tanks around to subtly freak the ladies out - panic begins to set in and the women begin counting down the final two hours of their shift. Unfortunately for them, they never end up clocking out as they get kidnapped from the gas station and brought to an unknown location where their physical torture is played out as a game in three acts, live streamed to the internet watched by thousands of viewers and executed by a fucking madman clown known simply as The Ringmaster (Damon Younger). Will the girls be able to escape the lunatic clowns carnival of carnage, or will they fall victim to the hosts bloody, torturous tactics? Find out in... FINALE!
There's a lot to really like about this movie - and there's also a little of little easter eggs to find in this movie that I caught along the way that gave it that little extra (like it's prologue taken from Frankenstein or the IMDB and imgur links that quickly pass by in the chatroom during shots of the live stream). Director Søren Juul Petersen put together a fun package that bounces back and forth between the gas station storyline and the torture show storyline, only really giving viewers enough to progress the story every so slightly before switching gears again. I honestly loved that the story wasn't boring and linear, and allowed these back and forth views as the story unfolds. I think it took about forty or so minutes in before things really began to ramp up, but once they do there is definitely no shortage of debauchery. The gas station storyline is definitely enjoyable, as you find yourself trying to piece together what exactly is going on and who may be involved, but the real fun is obviously had as the film cuts back to the warehouse where the killer circus is going down and there's no shortage of bloodshed. The Ringmaster is a real sadistic fuck - think Doom-Head from 31 - and the sick shit he pulls off with the films victims are actually quite gory and pretty memorable, there's definitely some "holy shit" moments that audiences will love. The best part about the whole thing is The Ringmaster isn't even the sickest dude there... there are thousands of viewers watching from the comfort of their own home, dropping absolutely ruthless comments in the chat that - if you look quickly - you'll be able to catch as it pops up on the side of the screen. The sick carnival really upped the fun factor of the movie, and just the way those particular scenes play out just make it so, so good. I thought it was really creative and made for an absolutely awesome watch.
Like I mentioned before, Finale might not offer anything we haven't really seen before - however don't take that as a shot at the film. There's still plenty to really enjoy out of this movie, and while the characters themselves may not be anybody worth caring about (besides the Ringmaster), the crazy circumstances they find themselves in are wild. There's one or two neat scenes that I don't think viewers would see coming, and while they're not really twists, they definitely throw the story off the path just a little; I thought that was nicely done. Besides all that, Finale is very well acted, the story unfolds perfectly and there's definitely enough there to hold your attention throughout; I think most horror fans will enjoy the twisted and sickening depravity that is packed into the movie, and I could totally see this being a movie that gets picked up by Netflix. And while I don't entirely get The Purge part of the "Hostel meets the Purge" tag, it 1000% has the same type of feel to it that Hostel has, so if that franchise if your kind of thing, definitely don't hesitate to rent this movie!