My History With the Film:
I remember the trailer for Final Destination looked great. It was one of those trailers that had all the kids in school talking. It looked refreshing, fun, and scary, which is what every high schooler really wants in a horror movie. Of course, I wasn’t like a normal high schooler, I wanted my horror filled with 80’s cheese, so I dismissed Final Destination as another “weak ass horror movie”. Yeah, that’s probably how I referred to it.
Despite my hipster attitude, I bought Final Destination on DVD when it came out. It was released in one of those horrendous snapper cases, but I didn’t mind at the time. DVDs were new and exciting, and I bought new movies pretty much every single week. The week Final Destination came out it was the best looking release, so I bought it and went home to watch it.
I wasn’t really ready for what I was about to watch. When people talk about innovative horror movies in the 90’s, Scream is usually the only film that gets mentioned. But Final Destination deserves some acclaim as well. At its core, it’s a slasher film with an invisible killer, but it’s also a mystery movie with some fun horror fan moments.
What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
After a premonition saves several classmates from a plane crash, death begins stalking them.
What I Liked About It:
-This past year, I’ve gone back and started watching the original Unsolved Mysteries. As a kid all the ghost and monster stories scared me. As an adult the home invasion and murder stories scare me. I feel like Final Destination works the same way. As a teenager, I preferred ghost stories and vampires, but as an adult what I really fear is that loose bolt on a Ferris wheel, slipping in a puddle of water in the bathroom, or a plane exploding mid-air. I can relate to the deaths in this franchise way more than I can in Friday the 13th, Alien, The Conjuring, etc. and that makes watching this film uneasy.
-James Wan (director) really takes the time to honor and give you the full effect of the deaths. For example, in the plane crash you get to see several minutes of this plane ascending, tearing apart, and eventually blowing up. You see people struggling to put on the oxygen masks and being sucked out of the plane. You get to see all those little details that most movies leave out because they make the viewer uneasy. I love that Final Destination doesn’t shy away from the details in death and that makes this film that much more horrifying.
-The whole concept of this movie is brilliant. The idea that death cannot be cheated is amazing and it creates for some amazing tension and kills. Even after five sequels the plot of this movie still feels fresh and exciting.
-The cast is great! Devon Sawa (Idle Hands), Ali Larter (House of Haunted Hill), Kristen Cloke (Black Christmas), and Sean William Scott (American Pie) shine, but even some of the smaller character such as the French teacher Larry Murnau seemed perfectly cast.
-The creativity when it comes to the kills is something to admire. The way it has to change and adapt based on the victim is great, and doesn’t get near enough recognition.
What I Didn’t Like About It:
-I feel like Devon Sawa’s acting was a little uneven at times.
-I’ve never liked the ending. I’m not talking about the final scene, but the part involving the electrical wires. It just never felt right to me.
-The success of this film launched the franchise which extended five films from 2000-2011.
-The story originated from an abandoned X-Files script.
-Some of the news footage was actual plane crash footage from TWA Flight 800 that occurred in July 1996. TWA Flight 800 was also carrying a high school French club.
-John Denver’s music pops up several times throughout the film. He died in a plane crash.
-Clear’s cabin was also the cabin featured in Lake Placid.
-Several of the cast members had roles in other notable horror films:
- Devon Sawa (Idle Hands)
- Ali Larter (Resident Evil Series, House on Haunted Hill)Kerr Smith (My Bloody Valentine)
- Kristen Cloke (Black Christmas)
- Tony Todd (Candyman, Wishmaster)
I cannot think of another horror film that takes the time to appreciate the death scenes like Final Destination does. In fact, they are put on full display and given the audience’s full attention, which is wonderful. All the gore and shock come at you full blast and you get enough time to enjoy every single second on the screen. As an adult, seeing deaths that are more natural than most found in horror movies is quite unsettling. It takes a lot to actually strike fear in my heart, but rewatching Final Destination did just that. There were several times throughout the film (despite seeing it half a dozen times) that I felt the tension rose so high that I really felt uneasy. I love it!
Final Destination is a great film and is one of the most consistent horror franchises out there. I think the first film is a very solid four out of five and is a must own for horror fans.
I highly recommend you read Death is Not the End: An Oral History of Final Destination. It’s a fantastic article.