Final Destination

Directed by James Wong
Starring: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Chad Donella, Seann William Scott, Kristen Cloke.
MPAA Rating: R for violence and terror, and for language.

Review by Matt Heffernan
March 20, 2000

One of the most unbearable genres in film is the teen horror flick. Typically, they are bloodbaths at the hand of a psycho or zombie, with an ending not unlike an episode of "Scooby Doo". Final Destination attempts to be different by not having an embodied slasher, yet it fails to distinguish itself.

A group of high school seniors are flying to France for a class trip. Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) is paranoid about crashes, and he detects little omens on his way to the plane. He tries to ignore them until he takes his seat, where he has a detailed vision of the plane exploding shortly after take-off. He tries to bolt out of the plane, but he gets into a fight with Carter Horton (Kerr Smith), and they get thrown off. Several other students and a teacher follow them, but they aren't let back on. They watch the plane take off from the gate, and -- wouldn't you know? -- it blows up.

Agents from the Department of Transportation and the FBI naturally suspect Alex of causing the explosion. They follow Alex around, but his innocence is looking less likely. The other survivors are getting killed off, and Alex is there every time. He sees a pattern, and figures out "death's design", which he is also learning how to get around. Can he continue to cheat death long enough to save the principle cast? Do you even care?

Well, I certainly didn't. I doubt anybody over the age of 17 would, either. Too bad it's rated R, which will keep out most of the "Dawson's Creek" fanbase that this is clearly intended for. James Wong, who has long been a producer and director for "The X-files", shows that he has little talent for directing a teen horror film. Each death was telegraphed for a good 30 seconds before they "suddenly" occurred. This didn't cause suspense or horror, but laughter. I haven't found most intentional comedies this year quite as funny as Final Destination.

Actually, a better title would be The Seventh Seal for Dummies. Instead of Bergman's macabre parade, we have a bunch of kids cruising in a Camaro. Sawa is no Max Von Sydow, but he and the other kids do an OK job. I just feel sorry for the adults in the film, who must have been aware that they were making a horrid piece of crap. Tony Todd (Candyman) at least seemed to enjoy hamming it up as a mortician, gleefully soaring into high camp as he explains death to Alex and his little girlfriend, Clear (Ali Larter, from The House on Haunted Hill).

If you happen to find yourself trapped in a theatre while this is playing, there is a little game you can play: try to figure out how many characters are named after producers and directors of classic horror films. Just don't give yourself credit for spotting the character of Billy Hitchcock (played by American Pie's Seann William Scott). That one's a little too easy.

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Final Destination (2000)

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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan