When this movie first came out back in 2000, it was a breath of fresh air in the stale genre of horror movies. Up till then, horror movies had some mysterious figure stalk our helpless victims, till during the final act the villain was revealed and (usually) the hero saves the day.
Final destination threw that blue-print out the window and instead had very formidable foe in the form of Death himself, along with a little help from fate.
The premise is so simple. Alex Browning (Sawa), along with his classmates, is going on school trip to France. Just before take-off, Alex has a premonition that the plane is going to blow up, killing everyone on board. Alex freaks out and ends up causing such a disturbance that he and five others are all thrown off the plane. While arguing in the departure lounge, they witness the plane exploding.
At first the FBI think that Alex may have something to do with plane exploding or that he had prior information. Little do they know that he did, just not in the terms that they think. With no evidence, they let Alex go and Alex attempts to get on with his life.
From here on out, things take a sinister turn as each of the survivors meet grisly end, in the exact order they would have died on the plane. Alex begins to have premonitions about each of his fellow survivor’s deaths. We see the hints with him, such as a bus’s reflection in the window, but when he looks at the road there is nothing there.
As the bodies mount up, Alex starts to put it all together and tries to warn the others. This doesn’t work and the deaths keep happening. Only after speaking to a creepy mortician, does Alex see a possible loophole. If he can break the chain, he has chance of cheating death. For those who haven’t seen this film, then I won’t spoil if he succeeds or not.
The deaths are very inventive in the film and just before each death there are numerous red herrings. The filmmakers know how to rack up the tension and I know I kept wincing with each near miss.
Looking at the film now, it is a bit dated and some of the special effects are a bit dodgy, but I still jump at the second death every time I watch it. I know it’s coming, but it’s just so out of the blue.
The character of Alex is a very likable one. He is the typical high school student. He is all but invisible to his fellow classmates and its only when this happens that he steps up to the plate. You end up rooting for him, hoping that he can beat his unbeatable advisory. His steely determination, mixed with his despair is fascinating to watch. The actor playing him does a really good job and its shame that he hasn’t been in much since.
The other characters in the film are mainly cannon fodder. You know which of Alex’s fellow classmates aren’t going to make it, pretty much from the get go. This doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the film, especially when you witness some of their feeble attempts at trying to dodge death.
The climax of the film is really original and very unexpected. You go through the film with a certain expectation and everything seems to point in the direction that the remaining survivors will beat the curse. I remember sitting there, in shock at the conclusion, especially as I had heard they were making a sequel. The film ends in a way that left me pondering how they could continue with the franchise.
This is the original and best of the series. It seemed that with each sequel they were trying to out-do themselves, but the originality of the idea has been lost. By the fourth sequel, it is pretty much been there, done that.
My only criticism of the film is the romance that they shoehorn into the film. I understand that events like these can make people seek others out for comfort, yet I just didn’t warm to Alex and his fellow classmate, Clear Rivers (Ali Larter). There was nothing for me to root for these two to survive till the end. In fact, I was hoping that Alex’s friend, Tod was a survivor. This is just a minor criticism of the film and didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment.
This Halloween, crack out this movie and watch an adversary that is truly terrifying.
SCARE FACTOR: 4 Stars
FINAL DESTINATION (2000)
DIRECTOR: James Wong
STARRING: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith