Final Destination Review

by "Berge Garabedian" (joblo AT sympatico DOT ca)
March 17th, 2000

RATING: 7.5 /10 --> Very good movie

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Television. What is it good for? Beats me. Movies have always been my game, especially over the past few years. Once "Cheers" and "The Larry Sanders Show" left the airwaves, I was left tinkering around with "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons" for a while, but all's I got left nowadays is my weekly ritual of Mulder & Scully...also known as "The X-Files". Which brings us to this film, which features the directing and producing debut of two writers from some of the X-Files' most memorable shows, James Wong and Glen Morgan respectively, and hopefully a good dose of dark, supernatural, creepy shtuff!

A high school kid aboard an airplane to France freaks out when he has a premonition about the plane's deadly fate once airborne, and gets himself and a few friends kicked off the airlines. It is only when his prophecy becomes reality a few minutes later, that the handful of survivors suddenly find themselves in an adversarial position against death, who apparently doesn't take too kindly to folks bailing out on his cataclysmic plans.
Creepy, dark and unlike many of your standard teen slasher flicks that have been tossed our way over the past few years, this movie combines an original and realistic premise, a quick pace, many gruesome and creative death scenes and a pretty cool ending, if I don't say so myself. Were there many "stock" characters ready to die like in many of these other thrillers? Well, not really, but I will admit that there was one dude who was pretty badly written and did piss me off with his unrealistic attitude throughout most of the film (without naming any names...Carter), but on the whole, the rest of the kids were decent with the highest kudos going out to Devon Sawa in another solid leading role. He truly bit into this character and delivers an effective portrayal of a kid who finds himself fighting the battle of his life...against death! This film's first 15 minutes are probably its creepiest, with quick cuts, tense moments and a dark, rainy night adding a real authenticity to the proceedings, and having me think twice about ever flying again. This got me hooked.

After that, the film does wind into a pretty basic routine of a "killer" on the loose with only the order of the victims to be determined, and yet, this film didn't allow itself to be trite or boring at any point. In fact, the killing scenes are probably some of the most original that I've seen in years, and plenty of back-end intrigue via the FBI agents following the case, the twists and turns discovered by Sawa's character and the general intelligence of the script take this film above and beyond most of the teen hokum out there. Granted, I thought they could have spiced up the FBI agents a bit, and certainly removed an entire scene featuring Tony Todd from CANDYMAN fame essentially reliving his role from that film, but all in all, the film's originality, dark undertones and solid performance by Sawa won me over. Also, it was nice to be scared by something that you couldn't really "see" for once in a horror film (I guess that's how most people felt about BLAIR overrated movie in my opinion), and be spared the two-bit special effects gallery. And if you thought the last shot from BLAIR WITCH was a keeper, well, let's just say that this one goes out with a bang! A real scream... :)

Little Known Facts about this film and its stars:
Devon Sawa was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Actress Valerie Cloke, who plays the teacher character named Valerie Lewton in this film, is married to producer/writer Glen Morgan in real life. Devon Sawa's main co-star in this movie, Ali Larter, is probably best remembered for her awesome debut role as the "whipped cream naked girl" from VARSITY BLUES (7/10).
The characters' names in this film were apparently written as homages to some of the greats of the genre. Alex's surname is Browning, as in Todd Browning who directed FREAKS and the original DRACULA. Billy's surname is Hitchcock, and Valeri is a moniker for Val Luten, whose credits include CAT PEOPLE and WALK OF THE ZOMBIE.
Earlier drafts of this film's script featured no connection between any of the characters who leave the plane early on in the movie, having them seek one another out instead.
This film was originally titled FLIGHT 180, which is the number of the flight the kids were to have taken early on in the film.

Review Date: March 13, 2000
Director: James Wong
Writers: Jeffrey Reddick, Glen Morgan and James Wong
Producer: Glen Morgan
Actors: Devon Sawa as Alex Browning
Ali Larter as Clear Rivers
Kerr Smith as Carter
Genre: Thriller
Year of Release: 2000
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(c) 2000 Berge Garabedian

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