Sunday, October 15, 2023

Final Destination

Movie Name:
Final Destination
Year of Release: 2000
Director: James Wong
Starring: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Daniel Roebuck, Amanda Detmer, Tony Todd, Roger Guenveur Smith, Brendan Fehr, Forbes Angus, Lisa Marie Caruk, Christine Chatelain, Barbara Tyson, Robert Wisden
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review
"Final Destination" from director James Wong marked a first endeavor for many of its team members: for Mr. Wong it was his feature directorial debut, the same going for Jeffrey Reddick who wrote the original story and has since gone on to write other features such as Jeremy Haft's "Tamara" and Phillip Guzman's "Dead Awake". The narrative focuses on the story of Alex Browning who is going to Paris with his high school class. While embarking Alex feels some unease, which is heightened after he sits down on his seat. He has a vision that the plane will explode mid-air killing everyone. He panics and starts announcing his fears, which prompts a fight with one of his classroom colleagues. This behavior results in him and a few others to be escorted out of the plane and prohibited from flying for the time being (including his teacher Valerie, Tod his best friend, Carter his nemesis, alongside Carter's girlfriend Terry, the one who arrived late Billy, and Clear Rivers, who believed Alex's statements and opted to get out). A few minutes later, as the plane takes to the airs, it explodes killing everyone on board, just as Alex's dream had predicted. Everyone is interrogated by the FBI, and Alex in particular is regarded as highly suspicious. A month or so later, a memorial service for the victims is held, and weird accidents start occurring, and claiming the survivor's lives. Firstly, Tod accidentally hangs in his shower. Terry is next on list and suffers another freak accident. They realize the survivors are being killed in the order that their death should have occurred if they had stayed on the plane. Alex tries to explain his theory to his remaining fellow survivors, and hopefully help them escape their fate. However that is not as simple as it seems.
"Final Destination" started a fairly successful franchise, which has produced 5 additional sequels (Chapter 6 is in production and should come out in 2024). The premise has remained somewhat constant throughout the entire series: someone has a prediction of impending doom, manages to avoid it (for themselves and a few others), only for a dark and sinister fate to stalk him/her and all the other survivors and claim their death. It's a rather interesting premise that could potentiate really interesting discussions or some action set pieces, which never seems to be the case. James Wong in this inaugural feature of the franchise establishes much of what the sequels emulate. The character who has the vision is an every day person, who gets that "Vision" and then spends the rest of the narrative trying to save the others who benefited from that same vision (and being many times hated or suspiciously looked at for doing so). The characters themselves are always threadbare in terms of understanding who they are or what their ambitions amount to (in all likelihood, their ambitions are mostly to stay alive during the duration of the feature). What this typically results in is a rather gruesome series of deaths for these characters, all of which reinforce this sense of a supernatural motion that is inescapable, but these set pieces don't really add much to character perspective or narrative development itself. While there's a "Twilight Zone" fingerprint to this premise, sadly the characters are never quite as compelling, since these films eventually chase a disaster porn perspective, more so than why pursuing why these occurrences are happening, or what ties all these characters together. The actors in this feature aren't particularly memorable, the same going for the production values, which are somewhat generic. This doesn't really rise to the level of other horror franchises, even if it has indeed maintained a regular output throughout the years.