2000; Rated R; 97 Minutes
Devon Sawa: Alex Browning
Ali Larter: Clear Rivers
Kerr Smith: Carter Hogan
Kristen Cloke: Valerie Lewton
Daniel Roebuck: Agent Weine
Produced by Chris Bender, Richard Brener, Glen Morgan,
Craig Perry, Art Schaeffer, Brian Witten and Warren Zide;
Directed by James Wong; Screenwritten by Jeffrey
Reddick, Glen Morgan and James Wong
by DAVID KEYES
is an occasion worth noting: I find myself actually recommending
a new teen horror film that hasn’t been directed by Wes
Craven. “Final Destination” is the product in question,
a surprisingly effective little picture that delivers what
so few thrillers have done lately: a well-written script,
interesting characters, psychological thrills and unconventional
directing. Several will be fooled by the fast-paced trailers
and television spots, though, which try to promote the movie
as a slasher flick. Hardly the kind of vehicle that uses
a Jason Vorhees or a Freddy Krueger as a ruse for bloodthirsty
teen moviegoers, “Final Destination” makes a villain out
of the one being everyone fears, but no one can confirm
the existence of: Death himself.
day of your demise a moment of celebration for him; he hungers
for your soul, waiting and watching for the moment when
it slips out of its body and is captured by his hands. The
characters in “Final Destination” are all items on the Grim
Reaper’s checklist, who have swindled fate, miraculously,
by following a paranoid classmate off of an airplane just
minutes before it enters the air and unexpectedly explodes.
The classmate in discussion is named Alex (Devon Sawa),
who has a vision of terror while aboard a plane preparing
for takeoff towards France, and immediately demands to be
removed from the cabin. He isn’t simply being superstitious,
though, as the plane itself is destroyed in midair just
like he had envisioned. The survivors realize that, what
they have just done, is cheated death.
scenario escalates immensely as the youngsters appear to
be sentenced to death despite their last-minute evasion
(it is always said that fate will bite back if you try to
maneuver it). Alex himself, who may be psychic, has more
visions showing the surviving classmates meeting their quietus.
Many of the death scenes themselves are like chain reactions
right out of the old Looney Tunes shorts, but they work
well because of their solid atmosphere. Director James Wong
and his cinematographer, Robert McLachlan, have worked hard
to establish an eerie mood all through the picture, starting
with an extremely chilly sequence in which the explosion
of a plane is observed from where the passengers are seated.
These are the types of movies that have practically no chance
of being shown on screens aboard actual airlines.
the movie begins to lose its energy is towards the end,
when the eerie mood is abandoned and the death scenes become
so ludicrous that one can’t help but laugh at them. The
final moments are the most unsettling, because no one is
able to decide whether the foolishness of the conclusion
should be accepted as terrifying or humorous. In addition,
few of the characters are distinguished from one another.
Yes, they are smarter and more interesting than those of
the average teen thriller, but they could have been a little
more sophisticated regardless.
much of the substance is quite effective. The movie is so
neatly packaged that it even deserves comparison to the
“Scream” pictures, which, too, tried to be both scary and
humorous. And yet the similarities end there; Wes Craven’s
famous trilogy is a slasher comedy that shares parallels
with the real teens who watch scary movies. “Final Destination”
contains practical and quirky individuals, but the concept
of Death stalking those who cheat fate is questionable despite
some of us believing in his existence. Essentially, though,
that’s what these kinds movies are meant for in the first
place—to step beyond the universal limitations and interpret
superstitions as if they were elements of reality. “Final
Destination” exhibits this capability very successfully,
and survives a swarm of recent horrible thrillers by being
the only one willing to scare us using psychology rather
than gratuitous gore galore.
David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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