By Owen Gleiberman
Updated August 28, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT
Jim Sheldon

The opening slaughter at a speedway sets the freak-accident-as-snuff-sport tone of The Final Destination, the fourth entry in the popular youth-death series, and the first one made in glorious spike-in-your-face 3-D. As cars come hurtling off the track, the mass pandemonium recalls that of early-’60s shockers like The Blob, but the crucial hook isn’t the chaos: It’s the shot of a man impaled through his mouth by a splintered bench, which pokes right into the audience, making us feel impaled.

Once again, a group of pretty young things who have escaped the opening disaster proceed to die, one by one, as fate catches up with them. The jokey, heightened, Gen Y-Omen gruesomeness never lets up — there are burnings and beheadings, and one dude gets turned into raw shish kebab when he’s mashed through a chain-link fence. But the in-between filler, with Nick (Bobby Campo), addled by premonitions, scurrying to stop each death before it occurs, is about as extraneous as a horror-movie plot can get. (If Nick didn’t keep failing, there wouldn’t be a movie.) It’s no exaggeration to say that the actors have less personality than the pipes, nail guns, grinding gears, decaying beams, and slowly spreading oil spills that are fused, with a kind of empty-dread technical precision, into Rube Goldberg torture devices. C+

See all of this week?s reviews