Thursday, October 13, 2011

31 Days Of Horror: Day 12: Final Destination

So I’ve never seen one of these.

Now hold on just a second. When Final  Destination first came out there was no real reason to. It didn’t look special, it was that dumb looking movie with that puffy faced Devon Sawa kid and Stifler. I was too young to know who Tony Todd was.

Just when did these movies get respectable anyway? I remember when the last one came out people were still referring to the series with out and out disdain. Yet when I mentioned to a few horror fan friends that I’d never seen a Final Destination flick, they acted as if I had just said “You know I’ve never gotten around to watching Night Of The Living Dead. Halloween neither.”

I figured I might as well check one of The Final Destination films for 31 Days Of Horror. But which one?  Well probably best to start at the beginning right? Then again I have heard that Part 2 really is the one to see. But Part 3 stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and she’s ahem- er… Well best to just watch them all then. So for the next four days (The fifth Final Destination just left the damn dollar theater) It’s Final Destination Fest here at 31 Days Of Horror. We will find out just how many ways you can skin a teen.

Things get off to a relatively low key start with Final Destination. Upon boarding the plane our hero receives a vision of the plane going up in a giant fireball (Truth in criticism this is a pretty darn impressive sequence). Understandably freaked out by this, he panics and gets himself and a random selection of students kicked off the plane. Which then explodes. Dun dun dun.

39 Days later after the memorial service and the unveiling of a statue dedicated to the victims, the random selection of students begin to die off. Why, Death decided to wait until after the memorial service to begin offing the principles is a little sketchy. I guess he just wanted to give everyone some time to pay their respects. Death may not be proud but you cannot say that he isn’t polite.

I’ll admit I’m still not entirely sold on this one. I mean it’s fine, but there’s nothing to really differentiate it from the host of WB horror that was being released around that time, save Tony Todd’s great one scene appearance. The whole mechanic it devises for “Death passing people over” is pretty sketchily drawn. And it even does that annoying thing that horror films were doing at the time of naming all their characters after famous horror figures (Valerie Lewton? Ker-rist).

The death’s are all pretty low key, without any of them reaching the Rube Goldberg craziness I’m told the series reaches earlier. Only one, involving a cracked mug, a bottle of Vodka, a house fire, some kitchen knives and a spice rack really hits any entertainingly ludicrous heights. Like I said there’s nothing really wrong with the film, it just feels sort of workmanlike.

Then again I have always been told that Part 2 is where shit gets real. So we shall see. 


Nich said...

"The death’s are all pretty low key, without any of them reaching the Rube Goldberg craziness I’m told the series reaches earlier. Only one, involving a cracked mug, a bottle of Vodka, a house fire, some kitchen knives and a spice rack really hits any entertainingly ludicrous heights."

To me, this is exactly what made the original Final Destination one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. (I think I had to leave the theater!) The perfectly ordinary deaths made the whole scenario seem that much more plausible, like something that could happen to you. Of course Freddy Kreuger doesn't exist, but death? Death exists. And you have a shower in your house.

Bryce Wilson said...

I can definitely see that, but the film didn't really reach that tone for me. It didn't play things straight enough. I mean I actually giggled when the puddle of water ominously retreated back into the loose pipes.

Henry Swanson's Glasses said...

I still think 3 is the most "fun" - some of the deaths are truly ludicrous. 2 isn't bad, and 1 I feel is by far the tamest (also, it has some of the most obnoxious performances as well).

The series, as a whole, is fairly mediocre to me - nothing as offensive as the plethora of PG-13, music video directed remakes. But some horror fans really love this series, some hate it. Pretty interesting how it divides people.

Adrian Sandoval said...

Agreed with Nich. To this day I do not put a glass on top of my computer monitor (Well I couldn't anyway because it's a flat panel. But I had a CRT when this movie came out and that's what matters). That's about the greatest compliment I can give a horror film - it scared me enough to make me change a bad habit.

The rest of the films are crazy elaborate and over the top, and I guess that's ok if you like that sort of thing. Personally it does nothing for me since that's about all the sequels have to offer - a shit load of crazy gore and not much else.

On a different note, my X-Files fanatic girlfriend tells me the original Final Destination started life as an X-Files episode. I can see that.

Rob said...

Pretty interesting review. This is actually my favorite in the series. Although 2 has a beginning that is truly awesome (!) and 3 has the adorable Winstead*, 1 is the only one that really spooked me. Except for asshole/loudmouth dude, I thought all of the characters were pretty likeable
(and how about Ali Larter? She seems to make every movie she appears in more enjoyable, even that Resident Evil sequel set in the desert, not to mention Legally Blonde!)and some of the cinematography was really creepy (in the good sense of the word). Looking forward to reading your thoughts on the sequels, although I take umbrage (yes, UMBRAGE, whatever that means)at your description of Devon Sawa as "puffy". PUFFY?!
This is the guy who starred in 'Idle Hands', for Pete's sake, so show some respect! Rob
*any thoughts on the sequel/prequel/remake/reboot (whichever) of The Thing with Winstead? I'm looking forward to it.

J.D. said...

Yeah, count me in as a big fan of the first film. The second is pretty good but as soon as Ali Larter stopped doing 'em I tuned out. Plus, it became more and more about orchestrating these elaborate and gruesome set pieces. Blech.

The first one actually had some white knuckled tension and good banter back and forth between the characters. There was a genuine sense of urgency and dread that seems to be missing from subsequent sequels.

But that image of the plane blowing up in the distance still gives me the chills. That image stayed with me for a long time, probably thanks to 9/11.

I also like the little nods to horror icons of the past. I mean, hell, if SLITHER can get away with it and is championed for featuring all sorts of knowing references then so can FINAL DESTINATION. I mean, they don't hit you over head with it but for fans of the genre it is a nice tip o' the hat, IMO.