The answer is no. I watched the first Final Destination when I was in my teens, when the idea of death stalking survivors of a disaster wa...

Do We Really Need a New Final Destination?

The answer is no. I watched the first Final Destination when I was in my teens, when the idea of death stalking survivors of a disaster was fresh and innovative for its time. But through two sequels the concept of death coming after clueless teenagers has been done to death, and has become an excuse to stage ridiculously elaborate death sequences (the plate glass death caused by pigeons in FD2 and tanning bed from FD3 come to mind).

Even though it inspired two more films, the first Final Destination ultimately falls short as a horror film. In the beginning the film has a lot of promise as it starts to play with ideas of post traumatic stress and teenagers thinking they are indestructible, but it never develops any of these concepts past the introduction stage. Instead as the film progresses it drops all pretense of actually saying something meaningful and collapses under the weight if its own ridiculousness (Devon Sawa thinking he was going to die of tetanus from a rusty fishing hook was just embarrassing).

Final Destination 2 managed to retain some interest for later audiences by nostalgically featuring Clear Rivers, the girlfriend of the boy who has the premonition of disaster in the first film. But Clear’s presence as a cuckoo prophet of death locked in a mental ward is not enough to keep the film afloat, and it falls apart. They even bring back the creepy mortician from FD1, but his presence adds little weight as his character didn’t work in the first place.

By the time we get to the third film it’s a whole new cast of characters, but the narrative doesn’t give the audience any time to get to know them. Instead we are presented with cardboard stereotypes (the valley girls, the Goths, the jock etc). As displayed in the first film, it’s when the audience is emotionally invested in the characters that their imminent deaths put us on the edge of our seats. By giving the deaths more screen time than the victims, FD3 fails to be anything but a gross out.

Final Destination 3 attempts to work out the idea that death is somehow evil or demonic that was introduced in the opening credits of the first film. The roller coaster ride is the Devil’s Flight and the number on the seat Wendy Christenson is about to get into is six. But the film fails to develop this idea in any detail and it’s pretty much dropped as the deaths get under way.

But the biggest flaw of the third film is that, for the most part the people marked for death don’t see it coming. Ashley and Ashlyn have no idea that they’re going to be roasted alive at the tanning salon, and when Wendy and Kevin team up to tell the people who are next that death is after them the stock response is skepticism and disbelief. The source of suspense in the original film was that these kids knew they were marked for deletion, but that gets thrown out the window in FD3.

The Final Destination franchise has endured because the formula allows for gratuitous death and violence with minimal explanation. But death’s design has been played out and no one has had the decency to bury it yet.

3 comments:

  1. Monsterscholar,

    I was never a big fan of these films in the first place, and I'm pretty much anti-remake, so all around, this idea is a bad one to me.

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  2. Well, I love parts 2 and 3. I also loved MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D. So, you can bet I will be in line on opening night for this one!

    JM

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  3. Ditto Scott,

    As I was going back to the films and looking up my fav death scenes I realized that the original premise was shakey to begin with. Have you seen the trailer for the new film? It looks like they already gave away the best parts (the carwash, pool and escalator deaths).

    and JM,
    Have fun at opening night! It's nice to see a fan so dedicated to this series.

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