Sunday 12 September 2010

Movie Review: Final Destination (2000)

A horror film good enough to spawn a series, Final Destination has some interesting touches but does not stray too far outside the traditional boundaries of the genre.

On a high school trip to Paris, Alex (Devon Sawa) is settling into his seat on the plane when he has strong visions of a fiery crash that will kill all passengers. Causing panic, he and a few of his classmates are bundled off the plane, which takes off and promptly bursts into a ball of fire, killing all who remained on board.

Alex is shunned as a freak at school, while the other survivors, including his friend Tod, his rival Carter and Carter's girlfriend, the moody girl Clear (Ali Larter), and a teacher, struggle with being the survivors of a tragedy.

But the grim reaper refuses to concede defeat, and soon enough, death comes-a-calling. One by one, the survivors of the plane crash are trapped into bizarre accidents that claim their lives, often with Alex close-enough by to arouse the suspicions of the FBI agents investigating the crash. To escape their fate, Alex and the dwindling number of survivors try to find a way to understand and break the cycle of death.

Final Destination takes itself seriously, which is a good thing, and takes its time to establish its premise, which is very good. The absence of a maniacal human killer, and the need to rely on self-staging, fate-driven accidental deaths, is also refreshing, although there is an over-reliance on electricity as a source of calamity.

But once the grotesque accidents start to claim the lives of the crash survivors, there is little the film can do to break out of the standard "here comes the next gruesome death scene" fare. And the assembled victims and the dynamics between them do not vary too much from the hordes of teenagers killed off in countless other movies.

Despite the flaws, Final Destination provided enough of a new concept to start a franchise: teenagers versus fate, in the shape of the grim - and grimly determined - reaper.

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