Final Destination, or ?Flight 180' as it was titled right up until the last minute, was a surprise hit of 2000. It was made with a modest budget of $23m it grossed a nice sum of $53m in the US. It was in the UK, however, where the film really shone, up against the massive epic Gladiator at the time the movie managed to gross a none too bad £11m but what made it better was it was a true sleeper hit, it spent 14 weeks in the UK film charts. With no big name actors, and no major publicity the film did so well because of word of mouth and the word was it was damn good.
I admit I was sceptical at first in reading about Final Destination. It seemed like a tired teen horror movie that seemed to be spewing out of America at that time, indeed it was only until about 3 weeks in to it being released that I actually lifted my bum off my sofa and put my bum on the seat in front of the big screen to actually watch the movie. I loved it, and it was made better by the low expectations I had of it. It isn't groundbreaking but it is effectively chilly at times, the acting is surprisingly good and the plot is pretty fresh.
James Wong (X Files) came up with the idea of the movie, about cheating death, and it does seem to have a kind of X Files ring to it. The story goes as follows. Alex (Devon Sawa) is off, with his classmates, to France. Now being in America France is like our version of?America, so it's a pretty big deal. While on the plane he has a premonition of the plane exploding, slightly scared, he wakes up and finds that some of his premonition turns out real. Scared for his life, and the others on the plane, he cause a fuss which sees him and several other classmates chucked off the plane. Some of his companions are none too pleased?until they see Flight 180 blow up, killing everyone on the plane.
Thus begins the cat and mouse chase by Death himself. One by one, in seemingly ?accidental' ways, the survivors of the ill-fated crash are dying. While others dismiss the idea of Death coming for revenge, Alex isn't going to let it go and soon he convinces friend Clear (Ali Larter) that it is up to them to try and stop Death himself.
As this happens we can witness some of the most imaginative death scenes ever. Thanks to the movie not having a masked killer doing the rounds the death scenes are not limited to the ?knife in back/stomach/head/eye' routine. Indeed, the first death scene is both funny and horrific all in one because, like with many of the deaths in this movie, it can really seem as that can actually happen. It gives you something to think about.
The special effects, for a movie with as small as budget as this, are excellent (apparently they did actually spend half of their budget in the SFX). The plane crash is one of the most realistic you will see, its worrying to watch.
For a movie aimed at the teenager end of the market, and for a genre renowned for hammy acting, the people in this movie actually do a good job.
Devon Sawa, no stranger to movies, is perfect at playing the lead role of the troubled Alex. Kerr Smith (Dawson's Creek) does a major turnaround from what you are used to seeing him as, this time he's the typical school jock, flash car, blonde girlfriend, bad temper, but luckily he doesn't play it into overkill. Another nice surprise is Sean William Scott (American Pie, Road Trip, Too many teen movies), while we are used to seeing him as the guy who cracks jokes and makes fun of the others, he plays the geeky guy this time, and he provides us with quite a bit of comic relief. We also have a nice cameo of Tony Todd (aka the Candyman) as Bludworth, who plays the man at the morgue, he is suitably chilling, and is set to play a larger part in the sequel.
Suspense wise this film doesn't fail either. In many films like this you are guessing who will be killed next. Not so in this movie. You are actually told who is going to meet Death next. However this doesn't spoil it. Suspense is carried over by how the person will die. If you know a person is going to die as soon as the camera pans of them, and their all alone, then your waiting in anticipation for them to die, but there are many false scares along the way. Also the suspense is kept up throughout the movie, it doesn't seem to drag too much at any time.
There are very few bad points to the movie. Obviously it will depend on your taste whether you like it or not, whether you consider it too ?teeny' or too teeny but just right anyway. This film does have fun as well as generate scares.
It is worth noting that there is an alternate ending to the movie and quite a few deleted scenes, namely a main subplot where Clear becomes pregnant. I think that it was wise to omit these parts, the ending seemed cheesy, but the one we are left with is excellent.
Final Destination, thanks to an imaginative story, nice acting and some elaborate death scenes breathes new life into the tired genre of teen horror. It is not as widely recognized as the Scream trilogy, but in many respects it's better. Lets hope the sequel maintains the high standard it has set.
FINAL DESTINATION IS
Different Nicely acted Filled with imaginative deaths
FINAL DESTINATION IS NOT
Low on suspense A typical teen horror Going to be shown as in-flight entertainment