Movie Review: The Final Destination

By Brett Beach

August 31, 2009

She is not singin' in the rain.

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Final Destination, the first film in the horror franchise, came out six weeks before my marriage and subsequent travel to Jamaica for the honeymoon. It was one of the few times I had ever flown, up until then, and only my second time ever leaving the country. Needless to say, watching it a mere 72 hours before I was to take a long flight did nothing for my nerves. But the exploding plane set piece and others in the series are part of Final Destinations's genius in finding a way to ratchet up tension with the everyday. I have since caught the subsequent sequels on opening weekend and count it as one of my favorite film series.

It must be said upfront that I did not shell out the extra cash to see The Final Destination in 3-D. This wasn't for purely fiscal reasons, either. The 3-D glasses do not go well with my regular glasses I wear, and the alternative of having slightly fuzzy images leaping out at me from various angles is not all that appealing. Earlier this year, I watched both My Bloody Valentine and Coraline in this manner. I probably enjoyed My Bloody Valentine less than I might have in 2D — the fuzziness detracted from the old-fashioned scares - whereas Coraline was so rich in imagery and imagination and invention that my eyes stoically endured the burden and strain. To reaffirm my status as Cranky Old Man that I occasionally lapse into during my regular column, I find the current 3D bandwagon to be as ridiculous as the one in the '80s that gave us Amityville 3-D and Jaws 3-D, et. al. (Although if you are going to choose between those two, Amityville is incredibly entertaining as camp and trash, and Jaws is just, well, campy and trashy).


I have no need to feel as if the images are right there in the room with me. A great film is supposed to make me feel as if I am inside it (or at least involved wholly within its world). It may have been fine as a device to get butts into the theaters back in the 1950s when movies needed gimmicks to compete with television. But now that the glasses are bulkier and more expensive and the process is more elaborate and the images can be pristinely, digitally rendered, is 3D supposed to have an air of respectability or seem cool all over again? I'm not buying it.

In this case, I am particularly crankier than normal for two reasons: 1) I would like to think that the FD series doesn't need such gimmicks. It has a brilliant conceit at its core and anything added on top is just extraneous. As cynical as I typically am about franchises and sequels, this is a perpetual motion machine with the possibility for constant reinvention. 2) I was very, very excited for this fourth installment. The writer (Eric Kress) and director (David R. Ellis) of Final Destination 2 were returning, and I was hopeful that lightning would strike twice and they would create another deliriously rude black comedy. I am not prone to overstatement, so when I say that FD2 is one of my favorite horror sequels/sequels/films of this decade, it's with careful consideration. It's probably not even fair to call these horror films anymore as, for the most part, horror is beside the point. People escape dying a horrendous collective death to perish nasty individualized deaths. Repeat.

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