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John’s Horror Corner: Final Destination 3 (2006), still loads of shocking gory fun, but missing the heart and soul of the first two.

February 19, 2019

MY CALL: If Final Destination (2000) is a great horror film and Final Destination 2 (2003) is a great horror movie, then FD3 is really a fun “flick.” Great for shocks and gore, but it lacks the soul of part 1 and the feistiness of part 2. MORE MOVIES LIKE Final Destination: All the Final Destination sequels except for maybe part 4 (The Final Destination) starting with Final Destination (2000) and Final Destination 2 (2003), and the Saw films (2004-2017) if you’re up for much more brutal death scenes.

Franchise SIDEBAR: Final Destination (2000) ended strong with Alex (Devon Sawa; Idle Hands, The Exorcism of Molly Hartley), Clear (Ali Larter; House on Haunted Hill, Resident Evil 3/4/6) and Carter (Kerr Smith; My Bloody Valentine, The Forsaken) having beaten Death’s design and finally enjoying a drink in Paris… that is, until they realize they made one mistake (in Alex’s seat diagram analysis) as death takes Carter and the screen goes black! When Final Destination 2 (2003) opens, we learn that the survivors of Flight 180 all ultimately died mysterious deaths except for Clear, that all of the victims of FD2 were connected to the survivors of Flight 180, and that they had also evaded Death’s plan (during the events of FD1). FD2 ended with survivors and their fate remains unknown.

Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead; 10 Cloverfield Lane, Black Christmas), Jason (Jesse Moss; Still/Born, Tucker and Dale versus Evil, Extraterrestrial), Kevin (Ryan Merriman; Halloween: Resurrection) and Carrie (Gina Holden; Saw 3D) are high school seniors enjoying the rides at the carnival. The obvious abnormalities observed by Wendy readily cue us that she is our heroine as warning signs build to a frightful premonition that would save her classmates from a deadly rollercoaster malfunction.

With most deaths occurring off-screen and barely passable CGI effects, the rollercoaster death scene that introduces us to our cast of victims pales in comparison to the interstate death scene dawning FD2. However, it has its moments when a teenager’s torso is torn off leaving a gut-topped lower body in the car seat, and the menace of the malfunctions was every bit as entertaining as the death itself.

Director James Wong (Final Destination) has returned and he’s clinging tightly to his FD1 playbook throughout this sequel, especially with this opening sequence. After Wendy’s premonition, a fight breaks out resulting in the ejection of her classmates: Kevin, Ian (Kris Lemche; Ginger Snaps), Erin (Alexz Johnson), Frankie (Sam Easton; Decoys 2, The Butterfly Effect), Lewis (Texas Battle; Boggy Creek, Wrong Turn 2), Ashley (Chelan Simmons; See No Evil 2, Tucker and Dale versus Evil) and Ashlyn (Crystal Lowe; Wrong Turn 2).

Cheapening the character development, one of the survivors cites everything learned (i.e., the rules of Death’s design) during FD1 in a quick exposition dump. I wasn’t thrilled with the overall writing. But as cliché as they’re written, I really appreciated the sincere yet shallow Mean Girls-ish Ashley and Ashlyn, whose vapid dialogue drew giggles—the actresses nailed their roles. It’s funny that I appreciated their lines and delivery (call it bimbo humor done well), but these were the characters that introduced nudity to the FD franchise (the very act of which is often considered a cheap tactic and which often draws eyerolls even if I’m amused).

Our first real excitement is the tanning bed scene—and no, not for the nudity. Ashley and Ashlyn are doing their best to look their best for the memorial of their lost classmates when Death’s breeze blows their way. The scene has great energy. The girls are singing along to the stereo in their tanning beds and it’s almost endearing—I think they’re my favorite characters. But… things start to go wrong, of course. These poor girl’s end up cooking and blistering as they scream and claw for their lives trapped in their tanning beds until the glass below them shatters, they fall onto the UV bulbs and they burn alive!

The execution of the actual deaths remains every bit as feisty, shocking and gory as we’d hope—the mark of any good horror movie relying on death scenes for its tempo. We see victims painted red in blood, piles of intestines, heads crushed and splattered, smashed and fragmented torsos, and huge chunk-rending engine propellers slicing heads. From chop to frappe, this sequel basically applies all different settings of a food processor to its victims. Anyone who loves a good death scene will surely enjoy FD3.

However, the chain reactions that build to the deaths seem rather uninspired, uncreative and unelaborate compared to FD1-2—and those were the very things that cultivated dread or even excitement; you know, the things that made these movies work! We no longer have that same “thrill of the chase” as Death creeps closer. And that’s a shame. But again, to be fair, once Death is upon his victim, it’s fun to watch.

All told, this sequel is very entertaining but falls well behind Final Destination 2 (2003). FD1 is clearly the better film, and FD2 is most fun and rewatchable. Still I’d recommended this to anyone looking for some mindless in the form of shocking blood splatter.

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