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In his dreams, Alex sees his flight in flames. His premonition results in him and his fellow classmates being left off the plane which, following take-off, explodes. Their trip to the final destination delayed but not terminated - as the teenagers find out, there is no cheating death.
The opening scene at the airport is effective, and ensures Final Destination won't be shown as flight entertainment. The deaths are well executed (if you'll excuse the pun). If it's not the thought behind them - which will get the guessing games going - then it's the timing that can catch you out. However, there is inconsistency in these as the idea of showing death as being able to take form of an entity becomes abandoned. Also, it's as if they ran out of blood at one point - but it's not as if there hadn't been buckets of this stuff thrown around already.
Final Destination is strong in the special effects department. Computer trickery can be evident, but it's not as if these effects stand out like a sore thumb. It's not entirely the works of computers however, and when something is evidently fake, there is humour with horror - something which the film manages to mix successfully on more than this one occasion.
Despite being set in New York, there are a couple of clues, including the clumsy final scene - whereby they effectively close the loop on the film's theme and open the way for a sequel - hinting that the film was indeed shot in Canada.
Canadian Devon Sawa plays Alex Browning who has the premonition. As Clear, Ali Carter looks great with the fringe and belly bearing tops, and although Sean William Scott is best known as Steve Stifler in the American Pie series, I'll still know him as the Andy Roddick lookalike! Looks aside, the acting in this film is good.
The inclusion of John Denver's 'Rocky Mountain High' has its importance, with the film relying heavily on brass and strings to amp up the tension and accompany the terror.
Thankfully, the film doesn't hang about, and is under an hour and a half in length. Final Destination isn't so much a scary movie as it is a fun thriller, but a success and not a surprise to see that it has spawned some sequels.
Alex Browning is going to Paris on a school trip along with the rest of his class, but once he gets on the plane and settles down it turms out that his nerves were understandable as the plane explodes just after take off and he watched his friends die one by one.
We soon find out that this was in his imagination this hasn't actually happened, but as he gets on the plane it is clear that the same things keep happening and he has had a premonition. After panicking he finds him, some of his friends and his teacher thrown off the plane and they have to watch the plane that the rest of their friends and teachers are on explode.
There are seven survivors:
Alex Browning (Devon Sawa)
Clear rivers (Ali Carter)
Billy Hitchcock (Sean William Scott)
Terry Chaney (Amanda Detmer)
Tod Waggner (Chad Donella)
Carter Horton (Kerr Smith)
Ms Lewton (Kristen Cloke)
One evening he gets a strange message about Tod, upon arriving at his house he finds that he has dead, he later finds out that Tod commited suicicde but Alex doesn't believe this and starts to believe that him and his friends should of died on the plane and that death is out to get them. Who is next to die, will they manage to cheat death and will they manage to survive?
I really enjoyed this film, I found that the storyline was very well written and original. There are loads of teen horror films on the market but this one is completely different. As well as knowing there are going to be deaths you usually know who is going to be next and yet they still manage to shock the viewer.
I also really like the way in which the characters die, they are really different although some of them being ways in which you could easily do in the home but some of them also being really imaginative and elaborate and really well worked out.
I really liked the actors in this film, with the teenagers being unknown at the time of filming some of them have gone on to have amazing acting carers With Ali Carter being in Heroes, Sean William Scott in the American Pie films and also Kerr Smith in Dawsons Creek. I can't fault the acting in this film at all.
In the extras there is an alternate ending, this ending was to be their original ending but when it was played to the audience they didn't like it. They found that it was too soppy and also didn't like the fact that one of the characters managed to survive, so they had to record a new one. I have to say that I found it a really interesting watch.
My Son came back from seeing Final Destination at the Cinema telling me "It's the best film I've seen this year". That was what, 18 months ago? I finally got around to watching it over the weekend and now wish I'd seen it in all it's glory on the 'big screen'.
It has been compared in other reviews to the likes of 'Scream', but despite my not being able to remotely claim being a huge Horror aficionado, I would contend this is a classy film which is too good to be limply labelled merely as 'horror'. It is likely to increase in popularity over the years as somewhat of a 'cult classic'. Alex (Devon Sawa) is a student going to Paris with his high school French class for a field trip. While on the plane he gets a premonition that the plane is going to crash. This really freaks him out and he panics and has to be taken off the plane with some of his school chums and one of the teachers.
While they are grounded, they do not notice the plane taking off without them - until there is a huge explosion and the jet crashes to earth. That is putting it simply, because the special effects used to portray the explosion and the shattering windows, panic setting in etc, is quite horrifically realistic. The film continues following the group of now stunned and worried schoolkids. The six have cheated death and death does not like to be cheated. The group are stalked by an unseen presence as fear begins to take over. It is intimated that it is, in fact, 'Death' itself stalking and eventually catching up with them. Creepy eh?
Director James Wong creates some excellent scenarios for these stalkings and rather than being too graphic and gory, the fear factor is portrayed by the atmosphere and the 'feel'. Not surprisingly, Wong has worked on the X-Files and the kind of creepiness he brings to this excellent film, has it's roots in some of the best of that particular show's episodes. There are several shocks and twists along the way which will have your skin crawling - honest! The film - much like another recent 'cult-film-to-be', Pitch Black - has a cast of relative unknowns. After some fine performances given in this flick, they could have some good careers to look forward to.
Final Destination fulfils all needs of a successful horror film - it is SCARY. When the film drags you into the story you are held in it's spell and I must say not since John Carpenter's great chiller, ' The Fog' have I actually been on the edge of my seat for as long watching a film. If you are into Horror films, you've probably already seen this. If you don't usually like the genre, watch the film, you will enjoy it, but be Afraid...be VERY Afraid.
Final destination was the first installment of the what is now quite popular final destination franchise. it's the first film, and although the budget clearly wasn't as big for this one as the more recent ones because it didn't have any followers before it first came out, this one is still one of my favourite final destinations along with the second.
I had actually watched the second film before this one but it's a series of films you can kind of watch in any order, however they did talk a lot about the first film on the second so I though I had better watch this one as well.
The film is all about fate, and cheating death, a group of students were meant to get on a plane at the start of the movie, but because one of them has premonitions about the plane blowing up, this causes problems and they get thrown off the plane. After the premonitions turn out to be correct, they have cheated death, and now death comes after them one by one in the order they were supposed to die in the plane crash to finally finish them off for good.
I think that's the reason why this film works so well, its not a bad guy coming after people to kill them, it's a force that cant be stopped, and its almost like the people in the film are just defenseless which makes it so scary in parts.
This film was a great watch, some really on edge moments in here but really I just liked the story line, it's a great concept for a horror film and it really works so well.
(Film only review)
The first Final Destination film was originally released back in the year 2000.Since then there have been a further three sequels. Out of the ones I have seen (the first two) this was probably the best as is the case with most originals. Classed as a supernatural thriller , it is another addition to the teen horror style of films in the same kind of genre as the Scream films. It didn't receive great reviews from film critics on initial release but has a respectable score of 6.7/10 from 47,761 votes on IMDB.
The film involves the character of Alex and a group of his fellow high school students who are about to get on a plane to Paris for a French class trip. Before they set off, Alex seems to be forewarned of a disaster in which the plane bursts into flames minutes after taking off. He advises his friends before they board that they should not take the flight. Six of his friends and his teacher listen to him and don't board the plane . Waiting in the departure lounge they witness the plane exploding before their very eyes just after taking off.The FBI thinks that Alex had something to do with it all and follows his every move. His friends start to believe he had something to do with it as well and start to fade out of his life. Alex and his friends though are now being hunted down by Death who is angry that they cheated their fate. It doesn't take long for Alex to realize that you can't cheat death.
Final Destination has a quite original and also scary story that looks at the subject of fate and destiny and whether you should make it or if you should let things happen naturally. The film has good acting and also some well thought out death scenes. It's not just out to shock and the suspense is created well and maintained throughout the movie which keeps you interested. You can see by watching the film that they actually did think about how all the deaths would be carried out in a way that helped to keep the plot alive. Its not just a madman with a saw. Some of the things shown you could accidentally do in your own home and that is what helps make the film scary. Like the average teen thriller though there are the comedy moments but this film is an enjoyable one and has the ability to both scare and creates tension and suspense with the well thought out plot. Overall it is recommended. 4/5
Release date: March 17, 2000
Running time: 98 min
Film only review
Final Destination was released back in 2000 and remains one of my favourite horror films to this day. Following its success there have been 3 sequels with the last one appearing in 3D at the cinema and is due out soon on DVD.
The concept and story is simple but very unique; rather than facing a "boogieman" intent on killing them the characters are actually facing death itself who has been cheated out of its victims by the leading man, Alex.
Along with his school friends, Alex is set to fly to Paris on a field trip and being a nervous flier he is already jumpy about the impending trip. Once on board the plane he suddenly gets a premonition about the plane exploding just after take off and freaks out onboard which results in him being escorted off the plane with some of his school mates. It's whilst waiting for the police in the Airport terminal and trying to explain himself that Alex and his friends witness the plane exploding in the air as he predicted and Alex finds himself having to answer questions accusing him of being a terrorist by the police and facing angry accusations from his friends.
A few weeks later the people who were sent of the plane with Alex start to die mysteriously in freak accidents and Alex along with close friend Ali figure out that Death is after them and in the order that they should have died if they had stayed on the plane. Can they figure out what to do next? who is going to believe them? And how can they stay alive when they can't see what's coming after them?
For its time there was nothing else like Final Destination, other films since have tried to emulate its theme and the sequels have all followed the same path as the original but with more elaborate death scenes. As well as being innovative the makers also hid clues and messages within the film, its only when you watch it again and again that you begin to notice all the references to 180 (the flight number which Alex was supposed to die on) and even the credits depict the deaths that about to occur. If you can't find the messages when watching its worth going to the IMDB.com website where they are listed along with the other coincidences that were deliberately added.
I enjoyed Final Destination, it isn't overly gory but does have some effective death scenes, the actors are good and the story although unbelievable does make you think. The sequels that followed have followed the same storyline and are enjoyable in their own right, but this is definitely the best of them all especially when you rewatch and find all the references to 180.
For me it rates 5/5 Dooyoo stars and is one of those films that I watch from time to time when I want to pass an hour or so on. If you are a fan of Horror films then it certainly is worth a go and at only £3.98 new from Amazon it's a bargain price should you want to buy it.
When Final Destination originally came along, it is fair to say that there was very little around that equalled or even came close to it. Since then, many of the tricks used here have gone on to be repeated, sometimes less successfully, by other films and, whilst it is true that the follow-up, Final Destination 2, is often hailed as a much more mature and confident movie still this original still bears a sense of nostalgia for being the film that started the ball rolling as it were.....
Alex Browning and his fellow students are about to head to France with their teachers as part of an annual school trip when Alex experiences several moments of sheer terror. The plane explodes mid-air around him and he is forced to watch plenty of his class-mates dying as he himself faces death full in the face. Then he wakes up and realises it was all a dream....or was it? Certain things in his dream seem to have rept over into real-life and suddenly Alex becomex convinced that they are all going to die for real! Causing a scene, Alex and a select few of his companions are ejected from the plane and taken back to the Depature lounge. At which point, in the window behind them, we see the plane taking off and, in a spectacular and breath-taking scene, explode mid-air just as it did in his dream. At first it seems as though all of them have had a lucky escape but then it transpires that those who died first were the lucky ones as Death comes back to claim the lives of those he missed!
Cue lots of very nasty scenes as accident after accident occurs. Director and writers Wong and Morgan cut their teeth on paranormal show, The X-Files, and here they use that experience to bloody good effect! There are lots of red herrings and hidden clues ~ some aimed at the cast, some at the viewers ~ and plenty of gory, grisly and often surprising deaths. My favourite two include one with a bus, fans will know which one I mean, and then one with a train shortly after! Both are paticulary nasty and leave the first-time viewer shaking and going "WTF??!!???" at the television screen.
There is plenty here to get excited about and this was a very fresh and unique addition to the horror genre when it was first released. Subsequent viewings have kind of diluted the effect somewhat in later years ~ an experience the sequel has not yet repeated with me, that still leaves me gasping ~ and there are several flaws evident that include the less-than-satisfying climax and the open ending that leaves the viewers in no doubt that the survivors who thought they had broken the cycle have only managed to simply postpone their fate. Still this is a ery good movie that certainly brings a lot of fresh, new and innoative ideas to a genre that has often become saturated with dross and over-milked with dire second-rate slasher flicks that serve only to squeeze more dosh from a very tired franchise. (Yes Halloween H20 I am looking at you!)
It is a shame that FD3 was such a disappointment but if you want to remind yourself just how good this series was when it started, then you need look no further. A fourth installment was released earlier this year with the big gimmick that it was shown in 3D but from reports I have heard, this is simply another step backwards for the series. Best stick to this and FD2 then so you can see how horror should REALLY be done....
As a fan of horror films, this one had me hiding under my duvet in fear- this review is final destination 1.
Alex and the rest of his school are going on a ten-day trip to france, as Alex is checking in at the airport he starts to feel uneasy as he keeps seeing and hearing things that leads him to believe something bad is about to happen.
For example he hears John Denver on the radio, (John Denver died in a plane crash)
Once he boards the plane he has a vivid premonition of the plane exploding. He panics and insists on getting off the plane, which leads to himself and six other people being removed, which are 5 of his friends and his teacher.
The dissapointed and angry friends have to watch as the plane departs and they get left behind.
Then to their utter horror the plane actually explodes.
Now Alex has to face the fbi's disbelief in his 'bad feeling'.
After a month or two, tragedy strikes again as the people who got off the plane start getting killed in the most unusual ways, Alex discovers that death has a design and plans to kill everyone that got off the plane in the order they were supposed to originally die in, can Alex stop deaths plan and save his friends and himself.
I was completley shocked when i watched this film, the effects are fantastic and it makes you jump. It scared me so much i couldn't sleep.
So if you enjoy a good scare, I recommend it ti you.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
Horror films have too long been dismissed as lame slasher sequels and rather limp, brainless outings that do little more than paint the walls with gore and scantily clad women. Final Destination, however, takes another approach - instead of presenting us with a murderer behind a mask or some silly reveal after a cataclysmic plot twist, the villain is the concept of "death" itself, who picks off a number of teenagers one after another, following their escape from a plane that exploded moments after it took off (and they departed).
The film revolves around Alex Browning (Devon Sawa), who gets on a plane with several of his friends, destined for France. However, once he boards, he has a premonition that the plane will explode soon after take-off, and decides to get off the plane, causing a few of his friends to come off too to help him. Seconds later, the plane explodes, causing the authorities to get very suspicious, even thinking that Alex may be a terrorist, but finding no evidence, they let him go.
From here, though, strange deaths begin occuring to Alex's friends, from a seeming suicide to freak accidents, causing Alex to get suspicious, as it appears that "death" itself is coming after those who cheated it. This is what makes the film worth a watch - it's insanely original, and although absurd, a nice twist on the cliches of the slasher genre. It also delivers some great and highly memorable kills that are among the best in the series. It's not a masterclass of acting or suspense, but it does deliver the visceral thrills.
I love the concept for this film, and the inventive deaths make this one to watch. A nice introduction to a watchable trilogy.
What can be said, the start of an excellent series!
This is outstanding and by far the best film of the four, so well worth watching this one first.
Basic story : boy sees premonition of accident, notices that on the plane things are the same, gets off, plane crashes, people that got off get picked off one by one by an unseen force, cleverly!...
This is a standout film, and whilst it doesnt have any famous faces (well at the time of release!) it is one where you get to love/hate the characters in the film. Also the scenes of them getting picked off are clever and never straightforward.
This can be had cheaply nowadays, and even better with the other three available films, so its well worth a watch if you have not seen it.
Also it must be mentioned that the early scenes are best played loud through a 5.1 system, and in the dark!
So do what you can to watch this film, you wont be dissapointed.
Final Destination is a supernatural thriller directed by James Wong about a group of teenagers and their teacher who begin to get picked off in mysterious freak accidents after they are saved from a plane crash after one of them has a premonition.
Firstly, this isn't a scary film, not for me anyway. I had gone in with the misguided impression it was going to be a very serious film but if anything the bizzare ways in which they die are actually quite funny. The fact that the effects - one scene especially springs to mind - aren't exactly ultra-realistic also adds to the humour. His friend Billy, also offers some occasional comic relief with his off colour remarks. I have no idea how this received an 18 cerificate in Ireland, I think it deserves more of a 12A.
Devon Sawa plays Alex Browning, the unlucky (or lucky?) chap who sees the plane explode prior to liftoff. I'd like to congratulate them on actually finding someone who looks like a real highschooler for once rather than the usual pretty boys who look about twenty five. I cannot say the same for his rival Carter Horton, played by Kerr Smith whom at the beginning I honestly thought was another plane passenger rather than a fellow member of his highschool class.
The mixed group of individuals who follow him off the plane for one reason or another, include a mysterious girl named Clear Rivers, his best friend Todd, his other less intelligent friend Billy, his teacher as well as his aforementioned jerk-rival, Carter and his girlfriend Terry played by Kristen Cloke who has about four lines of dialogue in total. So it's standard teenage thriller fair character-wise.
The idea that our deaths are planned and if we escape, we upset some sort of natural balance is a clever concept even though in this context it makes no sense - surely God would just kill you in your sleep or via lightning bolt as soon as you step outside, rather than all this running-about-ducking-and-weaving BS but heyho it's a thriller, maybe God just likes to have a laugh. There's no serial killer in a hockey mask, no hitmen and no zombies. Instead "fate is the enemy here and in that sense it's very original - although it eventually boils down to them trying to escape natural phenomenon (which now includes buses) with a mind of its own when it turns into a typical chase romp.
I did actually enjoy it. It's a bit of fun. I had an interesting mental game where I tried to guess who would get bumped off next and then actually watching them get bumped off (or almost) was equally entertaining. They manage to build up the suspense well before each kill and I'm sure it took them a while to engineer the kill itself which is often very elaborate. The police involvement also adds an extra angle on the situation and adds to the suspense. I've read some reviews that have called the plot predictable, I'd tend to disagree. Even though a fair bit of it is straightforward (and what do you expect really), let's just say I could never guess correctly who the next person to be killed was.
The acting from Sawa is pretty good and he plays the reluctant clairvoyant very well and his gradual mental deterioration came across.
Even though there is quite a bit of scary/philosophical talk about death, I found it wasn't strong enough to actually make me think. Alot of it was broad general statements about how your death is all planned out or how you could die crossing the road or cutting your fingernails. It's nothing that's going to keep me awake at night. I felt it was all very "You're all going to die eventually" in which case, no sh*t sherlock. It's nothing I haven't heard a million times before. With such an original concept I'd expected maybe something a bit more heavy. It was a wasted opportunity, in that sense.
I feel like I'm heaping on far too much criticism, like I said it is an enjoyable film. It's not exactly anything I'll remember next year though.
I remember going to the cinema to see Final Destination and it had such an effect on me that I didn't fly for a good few years after. More on that later...
When it came out, Final Destination was something fresh and original and I thought it was fantastic. The whole concept was brilliant; Death has a plan and if you manage to cheat it, he will come back until he gets you, wherever you are. The film centres on a group of high school kids, all preparing for a school trip to France. Alex, played by Devon Sawa, has what he believes to be a premonition on the plane and wakes up terrified that something tragic will happen on take off. Alex leaves the flight, followed by a group of his terrified classmates. They witness the plane crash on take off and the cycle begins.
One by one, Death wants what he is due.
I still thoroughly enjoy this movie. It's full of heart stopping moments and the various accidents the students get into are original and shocking. I am not sure if to a first time viewer this film would be anything fresh or have much of an impact but at the time of release, this was a hugely popular and scary movie.
I honestly believe Final Destination was the reason for me not flying for about ten years.
As a big fan of "The X-Files" I was intrigued by what "Final Destination" might have to offer. The direction is credited to James Wong and the writing the Glen Morgan, two of the very finest writers of "The X-Files" who scripted and produced some of the best episodes of the series. Sadly, "Final Destination" fails to seriously impress, though it is not without its good points.
The premise is a good one at least: a group of teenagers abandon a plane flight after one of them visualises it crashing. After leaving it does indeed crash - in an excellent and very powerful scene - but having left the plane the few are spared. Fate, however, has other ideas, and tries to catch up with them by killing each in a series of extrapolated and extra-gruesome ways. he conclusion, sad to say, is something of a damp squib, but the rest will keep you riveted.
The action is half-comic, half-horror and mainly pivots around who will be the victim of the next killing and exactly how it will happen. Wong moves between choosing some brilliantly deadpan and extremey funny deaths and drawing out others into excruiating predictability for the audience as yet another characters draws closer to their inevitable and spectacular demise.
The whole film is very much in the "Scream"-esque teen slasher trend, but not as predictable and on occasions very enjoyable. The acting performances are, it has to be said, nothing special whatsoever with the possible exception of Kerr Smith from "Dawson's Creek". For a young cast they carry the film well but unspectacularly.
"Final Destination" is very much a one-trick pony. It aims to shock, and does so, but the rest leaves you wanting. The characters are very one-sided and the interaction between them highly predictable given that they all rely on well-worn stereotypes. Occasionally the death scenes seem irritatingly contrived - especially the one on the railway line - but to be fair this is often intentional as the humour lies here.
The special effects are extremely good, impressive, powerful and believable. Sad to say, however, that this is the area of the film which deserves most praise.
It has some highly tense and thrilling spectacular moments, but rather than build an engaging plot around them you get them impression that the concept of the stunts and the specific sequences came first, and a plot to pull them all together was an afterthought. Compared to Morgan & Wongs finet moments in "The X-Files", "Final Destination" pales in comparison: it is an entertaining and enjoyable film, but really only worth seeing once.
Final Destination is basically a horror and thriller movie directed by James Wong. The movie was written by Jeffrey Reddick. The movie was released in year 2000.
Devon Sawa played a role of Alex, a high school student and the main character of the movie.
Ali Larter played a role of Clear Rivers, a classmate of Alex.
Kerr Smith played a role of Carter Horton, another classmate of Alex.
The role of Valerie Lewton is played by Kristen Cloke, a high school teacher and she is supervising a trip.
Alex and his friends are going for their trip to Paris with his teachers. At the airport Alex had a dream of his flight explosion. When he steps up in the flight the same things starts happening as he saw in dream. He told all the passengers to get out of the plane but no one believes him. Alex and some of his classmates are thrown out off the plane including Billy and Carter. Few minutes after takeoff the flight 180 are crashed.
The survivors of flight 180 have cheated the death so they start dying in accidents. Alex got a sign that Tod is going to die soon and when he goes to his home he found him dead. Now Alex meets Clear to talk to him about Tod's death. He told her about signs of death. They then saw Terry and Carter dating. Terry is saying that she is moving out of town. In next movement while she is crossing road bus slams and kills her.
At night while watching news on flight 180 Alex felt that people are dying according to the path of the explosions of flight. Now he understands the pattern. According to him the next one is Valerie Lewton. He tries to save Lewton but all in vain. Her house explodes and she dies. Alex talks to all survivors about the pattern. According to him next one is Carter but Billy dies next because he had prevented Carter's death. Now the next one is Alex himself but suddenly he notices some error in pattern. What is that error? Who is the next? Who will survive at the end of the movie? To know all the answers watch "Final Destination".
I have seen this movie several times and loved it. I loved this movie because of creativity and strong script. The script is very different from other movies and the way they show people dying is the best part of the movie. How can they think that people can also die in such a way? The direction is also good. Every scene in which they show people dying creates a thrilling environment. For sometimes you can't breath. The movie is not for the children's because of strong violence. I know it's hard to see people dying but I love the movie just because of this. So if you have strong heart and want something different you should go for this.
With a school trip to Paris looming, Alex Browning and his friends are in high spirits. Gathering at the airport, they make their way through check-in, board their flight and, a few spats aside, take their seats. The doors close and Alex settles down for the take-off. As soon as the plane leaves the runway, the passengers realise that something is wrong. The flight becomes erratic and turbulent before a series of small fires lead to an explosion that rips through the cabin. One by one, Alex watches his class mates die before the inferno finally claims him and he burns to death himself.
Alex wakes with a start. It was all a dream. Except he's on the same plane, with the same people, watching the same little things happen. Panicking, he causes a huge commotion and is eventually forcibly removed along with a handful of his fellow students. Banned from the flight, they can only watch their friends fly off into the distance - only to have their trip cut short by an enormous explosion that rips through the cabin.
For Alex, it's the beginning of a living nightmare. Somehow, he and his friends have cheated Death. But Death is not a good loser......
In 2000, a relatively unknown film director named James Wong somehow managed to inject new life into what was, to all intents and purposes, a dead film genre. Two decades of slasher movies had just about exhausted every single opportunity from the familiar recipe of stalk and slash, even spawning an irreverent series of self-aware semi-parodies (Wes Craven's Scream trilogy.) Have no doubt it, Final Destination may have marketed itself as a horror thriller but it's conceptually a stalk and slash to the core. It's just that there isn't actually a real person stalking or slashing....
The slasher components are evident from the outset. The film is stuffed to the brim with attractive, nubile teenagers, all horny as hell and hoping for different kinds of holiday mischief. Tensions in the group are high, driven by hormones, jealousy and peer pressure. Wong cranks up the tension with a spattering of eerie clues. Even before the fated flight, it's as though Alex knows that something is wrong. There are strange little signs everywhere and an unsettling feeling that something isn't quite right. And then gradually, for all those hapless teenagers, it all goes pear-shaped.
The plane crash wipes the larger part of them out in one move. Even though you know it's coming, it's still a curiously shocking plot device as much for the audience as it is for the teenaged witnesses in the airport lounge. But then, when they all start dying one by one, the staples of the stalk and slash kick in. It's not about whether someone's going to die. It's about when, and more importantly how they're going to die and this is where Final Destination comes into its own. Wong appreciates that his product has to be pitched at a market that isn't quite into the full-on, graphic violence that the oncoming torture porn genre would deliver. In appealing to the mid-teen demographic, he can inject lots of claret but he has to use a bizarre sort of playfulness that makes people wince, groan and giggle rather than scream, with just a hint of creepiness to get the girlfriends snuggling up to their other halves just a little.
The deaths are great. Within the scope of the narrative, there really is no limit to what Wong and his writing companion Glen Morgan can get away with and, indeed, the more bizarre the better. There's a strangulation, a couple of decapitations, a stabbing and plenty more besides, but as the plot unravels, the audience starts to play along with a game that they never realised they were playing. Will that knife be the murder weapon or perhaps that stretch of electrical cable? It's hugely entertaining. One of the teenagers, for example, is despatched in a most brutal, unexpected fashion, with a pre-death argument that distracts the audience from the matter in hand. It's a scene that constantly features in fan boy "Best Deaths in Horror Films" charts and even now it still has enormous impact. The visual effects are competent. The aforementioned death scene stands up well to a frame-by-frame viewing for DVD nerds and all the murders are done with some panache.
The teenaged cast achieves differing levels of success. Devon Sawa's Alex Browning is kind of effective but doesn't seem to sit comfortably with the subject matter and generally sports a pained expression. His nemesis Carter (Kerr Smith) is rather more effective, given only that he does the angry teenager far more convincingly and is effortlessly more attractive. Ali Larter gives her character (Clear Rivers) plenty of gusto and has since carved herself a good film and TV career. The most famous of the bunch, however, is Seann William Scott. His performance as Billy Hitchcock is excruciatingly naff but he'd already done American Pie and he hasn't looked back since. There's also a memorably camp cameo from the Candyman himself (Tony Todd) as a ghoulishly over-the-top undertaker named Bludworth.
The film's not a complete success though. Unlike later films, the mischievous presence of the killer is often demonstrated quite literally, but the approach isn't entirely consistent and there would be rather more mystique if this presence was removed altogether. The "spot the next victim" game runs out of steam rather more quickly than the audience would prefer and the whole thing starts to lose its edge. The relentlessly brisk pace is welcome here, as it prevents the audience from analysing things just a bit too much, which is a good thing, particularly later in the film when our heroes think they've worked out what's going on. Some of the plot developments are really irritating too. There are a couple of FBI agents who think they have the killer's identity sussed who are more caricature than anything else and throughout the movie, any interaction with adults pretty much spells a narrative disaster. None of the teenagers ever really convinces us that their plight is real either. In spite of losing one friend after another, there's never any real display of grief or distress, which rather takes the edge off things.
Final Destination was, and remains, an energetic, innovative reinvention of a tired genre and it was no surprise that it met with huge approval from the waiting fan base. It's an extremely entertaining film, but the plot doesn't stand up well to scrutiny and the second film does the whole thing better. In the case of this franchise, the original is definitely the most original but the best was probably yet to come.
While hardly a spiritual upgrade of the slasher film, this high-concept teen body-count thriller drops hints of The Sixth Sense into the smart-alec sensibility of Scream. Helmed by X Files veteran James Wong, who co-wrote the screenplay with long-time creative partner Glen Morgan, Final Destination is an often entertaining thriller marked by an unsettling sense of unease and scenes of eerie imagery. It suffers, however, from a schizophrenic tone and a frankly ludicrous premise. A high school Cassandra, Alex Browning (Devon Sawa of Idle Hands), wakes from a pre-flight nightmare and panics when he is convinced the plane is doomed. His ruckus bumps seven passengers from the Paris-bound plane, which immediately explodes into a fireball on takeoff, but fate hasn't finished with these lucky few and, one by one, death claims them. Wong brings such a funereal tone to these early scenes of survivor's guilt and inevitable doom that the already far-fetched film threatens to veer into unplanned absurdity. Thankfully, the tale loosens up with a playful morgue humour: one of the victims winds up the splattered punch line to a grim joke and elaborate Rube Goldbergesque chains of cause and effect become inspired spectacles of destruction. Final Destination is a pretty silly thriller when it takes itself seriously, and the filmmakers play fast and loose with their own rules of fate, but once they stick their tongues firmly in cheek, the film takes off with a screwy interpretation of the domino effect of doom. --Sean Axmaker On the DVD: A superb commentary from writer Jeffrey Reddick, director James Wong and producer Glen Morgan goes into great detail about the film's background. From the team's involvement with The X-Files through to the fight to keep their title "Flight 180", they're pretty candid about the movie's secrets (cameos and character names) and bringing "Death" to life. There are also eight minutes of deleted scenes from an expunged sub-plot that led to their original ending. The explanation for its rejection comes in a 13-minute featurette ("The Perfect Souffle"), which demonstrates the result of Hollywood's reliance on test screenings. There's a trailer, cast and crew biographies and two games--"Your Psychic Eye" and "Death Clock"--which are scary enough by themselves. Rounding this exceptional extras package off is a 20-minute featurette on real-life premonitions. --Paul Tonks