Many people are afraid of death and that’s likely the reason so many also like to laugh about it. Laughing at things to which we are afraid is a defense mechanism, and perhaps no movie franchise in the history of film has played up that response more effectively than the Final Destination films. They are high-energy gore fests with a cunning sense of humor. We may be wincing, but we’ll also be laughing at the outrageous ways in which people meet their maker.
The formula was set in the motion 2000’s original, in which a student had a premonition of his plane exploding before boarding it. He, and a few other classmates, exited the plane. To their horror, the plane did explode. They thought they were off scott-free, but oh no. Death came a-calling, and with brutal force. 2003’s sequel followed suit and upped the ante on gore, but also on pitch black humor. The film revolved around a vicious domino-effect car accident, but it will likely be remembered for a certain scene involving a gigantic pane of glass and an unlucky escapee.
Considering the box office success of the previous two, one would not expect returning director James Wong and screenwriter Glen Morgan to deviate much from the already time-tested formula – they don’t. Instead of a plane crash or car accident we have a roller coaster disaster that takes the lives of several students at McKinley High. The two notable survivors are Wendy (Winstead) and Kevin (Merriman) and, wouldn’t you know, they spend most of the film trying to figure out Death’s design while at the same time witnessing the ghastly deaths of the other survivors.
But let’s get to the point here. The reason most people see films in the series is for the creative, wince-in-your-seat-while-cheering deaths. Granted, the premise is intriguing and can certainly start discussions regarding fate, but anyone hoping for the screenplay of Final Destination 3 to expound upon those theories will be gravely disappointed. Director James Wong is clearly having a blast setting up these elaborate situations, and even when the viewer thinks they have the scenario figured out, a new surprise is in store. That is, dare I say it, the endearing thing about this franchise; the element of grim revelation is always in store. The films have always made seemingly normal everyday activity seem ominous, and it’s fun in the most morbid fashion we let ourselves be entertained.
The cast, just like in the other films, is serviceable and gets the job done. Even the cardboard cutout characters that only exist to be eviscerated are especially one-dimensional here, but it hardly matters. I was hoping for another ghoulish cameo from Tony Todd, but he doesn’t appear in the flesh. I do believe, however, that he is the demon’s voice as the students enter the roller coaster ride. The special effects are good and the gore effects are even better.
By now you certainly know whether you are the target audience for this film, and if you got a giddy rush from the first two films, you’ll be right at home here. There’s nothing new, but in the case of the Final Destination films, new is not necessary.
Studio: New Line Cinema
Length: 93 Minutes
Rating: R for strong horror violence/gore, language and some nudity.
Theatrical Release: February 10, 2006
Directed by: James Wong
Written by: James Wong & Glen Morgan. Characters by Jeffrey Reddick.
Cast: Ryan Merriman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Texas Battle, Gina Holden, Dustin Milligan, Alexz Johnson