The story of some people racing against time to stop death, Final Destination is now entering its 21st year as the most pointless premise ever conceived.
Final Destination is an X-Files spec script which became a franchise not dissimilar to Saw, a distinctive concept that kept elaborating its Rube Goldberg death traps until there was nowhere to go but 3D and Poundland. Where the Saw series started intriguingly and fell apart as it indulged its stupidity, here the opposite applies. It’s a slasher flick where the villain is death itself, thereby eliminating any sense of mystery. Not only do we know everyone is going to die, we’re even told the order. This idea is clearly a parody of slasher movies but someone forgot to tell the director. Or the writers. The sequels lean into this comedy and are probably the better for it, but this first one from 2000 is a dreary slog.
Elements of the picture do suggest someone wanted this to be a postmodern homage, including the characters named after horror icons like Hitchcock, Browning, Lewton, Chaney and of course Shrek. They also watch Stewart Little on a plane, possibly in reference to its writer M. Night Shyamalan who had broken out the previous year with The Sixth Sense. The plane crash itself rivals Lost in terms of its genuinely horrifying execution, but again Lost brought a sense of humour to its pseudo-philosophical ramblings and some characters we care about. Here everyone is identical and exist only to be killed off in ridiculous sequences that belong in a much funnier film. The tedious stretches in between involve Stifler, Tony Todd and a whole lot of pretentious waffle, which everyone knows is the worst kind of waffle.
All the characters do is reiterate the world’s least insightful premise: unlike horror fans, death can’t be cheated. The soundtrack references John Denver’s death by plane crash, which seems a bit insensitive until you realise the movie’s air disaster is actually based on a real one that killed real high school kids and suddenly the John Denver thing actually gets worse. What could have been a fun genre commentary becomes an extended health and safety seminar, a film to laugh at instead of with. Final Destination may have spawned four sequels, but like its characters the franchise is already dead.