students of Lanier College have more than exams to worry about.
A slasher armed with a butcher knife is stalking the corridors
of academia. Only the survivors get to exempt this test.
Final Exam could have been just another generic campus
slasher but is saved by bizarre camera angles, an oddball but
loveable cast, and a heavy helping of Southern Charm. Don't
think of Final Exam as slow moving. It moves at a leisurely
pace, to be sure, but Jimmy Huston is breathing life into his
characters before they're gutted by the nameless killer. These
victims have enough dimension to make them more than just another
campus slut, wallflower, geek, and dumb jock.
Slasher fans will enjoy watching Sherry Willis-Burch's performance
as Janet, the bubble headed blonde. It's a far cry from her
nerdy Vivia in Killer Party. Joel S. Rice is a scene
stealer as Radish, the geek obsessed with serial killers. Wildman
(Ralph Brown) provides a testosterone filled counter balance
to Radish's 80 pound weakling. Cecile Bagdadi's performance
as Courtney, the heroine, gets lost in her long hair. During
the final confrontation, Bagdadi has to constantly push her
hair back so she can see the killer before stabbing him.
A few problems keep Final Exam from being a really good
slasher. The first half is more of a college drama. The only
soap opera elements missing are a pregnancy scare and an outbreak
of venereal disease on campus. Killer (Timothy L. Raynor) has
no name, background, or motivation. He's just a big guy with
a knife. This lack of character development really robs the
film of suspense and tension. The viewer is waiting for a payoff
that never comes.
Final Exam may not be the most terrifying campus slasher
ever filmed but it still manages to be funny and entertaining.
Fans of gallows humor will find plenty to chuckle over. A quick
example: The statistic quoting geek decides to become a hero
to save the woman he loves, only to become another statistic.
Sherry Willis-Burch has one of the funnier lines: "I'm still
happy. It's just I'm depressed." Posters for Murder is My
Beat, Tool Box Murders, and The Corpse Grinders
can be seen in Radish's dorm room.