Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Final Destination

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Final Destination, a film about outwitting death, is an example of a good concept in the hands of a filmmaker who goes over the top to appeal to the low expectations of its teen audience.

Soon after Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) and his classmates board a plane headed to Paris, Alex gets a vision of the carrier exploding, plunging everyone to their deaths. Reacting to the disturbing vision, Alex creates hysteria among his classmates and other passengers, which results in him and several others being forced to disembark. Moments later, Alex’s premonition is tragically fulfilled.

But instead of being treated as a hero, Alex becomes the victim of his own guilt and confusion, as well as the target of much suspicion from the FBI and those who avoided disaster. When the survivors subsequently start dying off in horrific ways, it becomes apparent to Alex and one sympathetic friend that they have only temporarily cheated death and spend the remainder of the film determining how to avoid what seems to be the inevitable.

As far as "cheap thrills" go, Final Destination has them in abundance, with quick pacing and gore provided by the grim reaper. Also to the film’s credit are some quality effects. One exceptional scene involving a bus is so disturbing that it leaves the whole audience literally gasping.

But since this is a movie exploring mortality and fate, is it asking too much for it to incorporate some aspects of spirituality instead of people trying to outrun and outsmart the reaper as if it is an actual entity? And when did John Denver’s "Rocky Mountain High" become an appropriate foreshadowing technique for impending death?

The publicity slicks for Final Destination mistakenly compare it to horror classics such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. True horror fans and those seeking real thrills will be underwhelmed and should revert to the classics on the local video shelf.

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