Final Destination Review

by Frankie Paiva (swpstke AT aol DOT com)
April 11th, 2000

Final Destination

rated R
97 minutes
New Line Cinema
starring Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Seann William Scott, Chad Donella, and Kristen Cloke
written by Glen Morgan, James Wong, and Jeffrey Reddick
directed by James Wong

A Review by Frankie Paiva

I'm not quite sure where to begin with this movie. First of all, I must say that this film is bad, a tepid piece of trash really defines it well. Yet I found myself somewhat drawn to the characters and their situation. This was probably due to a script that (while stupid and cliched) is also fun, fast paced, and exciting. Some of the moments where the writing shines through (there are few of them) are mildly enjoyable, as are some several special touches that will reward the horror movie junkie.

Alex (Sawa, who appeared in the even worse Idle Hands) is very sacred of flying. He and a large group of classmates are heading to Paris for a week. Before takeoff he has a nightmare in which the plane blows up in midair. He awakens and screams that the plane is going to crash and gets himself, five other students, and a teacher kicked off the plane. The plane does indeed crash moments later, and there are no survivors. This is when Alex discovers his skill (so to speak). He can see or tell when people are going to die. When teens who got kicked off the plane begin mysteriously dying by strange causes, he sinks deeper and deeper into paranoia. He eventually believes that death itself is chasing after them, and there is no way to escape their fate. But who's next on death's list?

One of the things that really bothered me about this movie was the use of violence. The idea of death coming after teens instead of a masked serial killer is original, but the ways of death are way too drawn out, implausible, and gory. More than half of the blood could have been saved, and the movie would still achieve the R rating it appeared the filmmakers were looking for. Too many things just happen, and ideas about what is going on are grasped too quickly by the characters and it takes away a feeling of mystery. The question becomes not who the killer is, but how they will escape the killer. This movie also comes out at a bad time. It's release comes just after several highly publicized plane crashes. In particular, one that crashed while heading to Paris with students on board.

One usually expects shaky performances from teen movies, but these are in a whole new class. Seann William Scott (American Pie) and Kerr Smith (Jack on Dawson's Creek) have given two of the worst performances I've witnessed in a very, very long time. Ali Larter and Devon Sawa stand out as untalented actors too. Larter really shows her chops while performing such gut wrenching scenes as listening to a CD on a CD player, frantically trying to start a car, and doing her best to look bewildered. Acting God Devon Sawa really shows us raw, human emotion in such scenes as rolling down a hill, and looking through the latest issue of Penthouse. If things couldn't get any worse, then Tony Todd (of the original Candyman, apparently thrown in here for kicks) will really excite you as a mortician named Bludworth who appears in one scene, and is never quite explained. Other inside jokes include a character with the last name Hitchcock, a woman listening to a John Denver record, and popping up for no apparent reason, a poster for 1998's wickedly funny John Waters' film Pecker. It hangs content on Alex's wall in the beginnings scenes of the movie. It's about the only thing in this movie that isn't slapped with blood...or mediocrity.

Frankie Paiva
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