Final Destination (2000) Retro-review

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The ultimate teen killer is death itself. Reads like a bad newspaper headline, doesn’t it? Oddly fitting though, given the subject matter.

Recently, I was asked to spend the month of October reviewing the Final Destination series of movies instead of running the weekly ‘Ask a Dork’ feature. Before this week, I had never seen a single film in the franchise. And I regret that, because so far it seems absurdly hilarious.

Did you know that there are five of these atrocities? Five. And the fourth one is simply known as “The Final Destination,” as though it were some grand conclusion or something. The mind boggles as to what the production heads at Warner Bros. were smoking in 2009. God forbid they just number movies that happen in a series. I’m sure they just had to sneak crib notes of the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises.

Bitching aside, the series has an interesting backstory. The first film apparently started off as a script written by Jeffrey Reddick for an X-Files episode that never happened. In fact, James Wong and Glen Morgan of X-Files writing fame helped it become a feature length film for New Line Cinema. The concept was simple: a group of people cheat death and death finds a whole bunch of interesting ways to kill them. Because, you know, death doesn’t like people pissing on his work.

This film was a part of the early 2000s teen horror comeback scene along with true cinematic gems like Scream, Urban Legends, and I Know What You Did Last Summer. The only real difference is that this film, which I would argue IS of the slasher variety, has a killer that is both invisible and somewhat creative. A bold concept, I know.

Alex Browning is going on his high school trip to Paris when he suddenly has a premonition of the plane exploding in mid-air, killing everyone on board. When the events of the vision begin to go down in real life, Alex tries to stop the plane leading to a handful of passengers being left behind with him. After they are forced off the plane, the airliner explodes. One of Alex’s friends, Tod, dies in a bizarre accident only a month later and Alex correctly assumes that the group were never meant to get off that plane. As the survivors begin to die one-by-one, those who remain try to cheat death’s plans.

Eventually only Alex and Ali Larter’s character, Clear Rivers (I’m not making that name up), survive. In order, their friends and teacher are: strangled in the shower, hit by a speeding bus, impaled by a knife BEFORE their house explodes, decapitated by the shrapnel of a car being crushed by a train, and finally squished by a giant neon sign. All of it is delightfully unrealistic and improbable – which is exactly how I would do my job if I were death, come to think of it.

The only character worth rooting for in this move is death itself. The dude actually has a goal and works towards it. All of these lame teeny-boppers are just in the way. Moreover, he achieves his goals through great perseverance. That’s something that should be applauded. Especially when teenagers played by 20-somethings die in the process.

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Trent Seely

I'm not that crazy about me either.

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