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John’s Horror Corner: The Final Destination (2009), the worst of the franchise, but still watchable as a standalone horror flick.

October 18, 2019

MY CALL: If Final Destination (2000) is a great horror film, Final Destination 2 (2003) is a great horror movie, and Final Destination 3 (2006) is just a fun “flick,” then this fourth film falls into the same territory as a Wrong Turn 3-6. Yeah, you’ll have fun watching the death scenes and gore and tropiness. But if you compare it to its source material (i.e., part 1), you’ll be bothered by the lack of substance. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Final Destination: All the Final Destination sequels: Final Destination (2000), Final Destination 2 (2003) and Final Destination 3 (2006). As well as 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), Clear (Ali Larter; House on Haunted Hill, Resident Evil 3/4/6) and Carter (Kerr Smith; My Bloody Valentine) 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 the revelation that Death’s cycle had not ended and that they were still on fate’s “to do” list, only to have Final Destination 3 (2006) completely ignore FD2 and instead serve as a second direct sequel to FD1. Unlike its predecessors, FD3 leaves no question that no survivors remain in Death’s wake. Those four who thought they “won” all coincidentally finding themselves on the ill-fated Train 180!

Past opening sequences of the franchise included a sudden change in plane cabin pressure, an unforgettable interstate traffic pile-up accident, and a rollercoaster malfunction. Attending a NASCAR-like racing event, Nick (Bobby Campo; Being Human, Séance: The Summoning), Lori (Shantel VanSanten), Hunt (Nick Zano; Joy Ride 2) and Janet (Haley Webb; Teen Wolf) escape a massive race car accident that kills numerous attendees in the stands.

Thanks to a harrowing premonition, Nick saves his friends from the disaster along with George (Mykelti Williamson; The Purge: Election Year, Species II), Samantha (Krista Allen; Feast, Alien Presence) and husband (Phil Austin), a mechanic (Andrew Fiscella; Vacancy, Prom Night, Quarantine) and a major jerk (Justin Welborn; Siren, Beyond the Gates, V/H/S Viral, The Bay).

The opening sequence struck me as a decent spectacle (for a standalone horror movie), but packing some of the weakest execution of the franchise. Loads of deaths occur on-screen, but they’re all so incredibly quick that if you blink you’ll miss whatever just happened and so much attention was placed on the 3-D visuals that on your TV at home things will appear a bit basic (relatively speaking). Flaming CGI cars and concrete fall and then victims basically disappear under them instantaneously as if an Acme safe was dropped on Wile E. Coyote.

Director David R. Ellis (Shark Night 3D, Final Destination 2) returns to the franchise with the least engagingly written characters yet. These may as well be the victim line-up from Wrong Turn 3-6 (2009-2014). And that’s totally fine in death scene-driven horror movies—I’m just accustomed to a higher bar from the previous Final Destination movies. But, to be fair, the characters have been less and less impressive with each subsequent sequel. I guess this was to be expected. But this was a big drop-off from FD3.

The problem is that this sequel makes no effort to bring its characters together or for us to care about them at all. We leave the opening sequence and then people just start dying. And like FD3, Nick has premonitions throughout the film and he simply understands how to deal with them—i.e., exactly how the characters learned to in parts 2-3 by working together (which doesn’t happen here). It’s kind of obnoxious; like it’s insulting the intelligence of FD franchise fans and stomping out our fairest of expectations. I never cared about a single character.

I wasn’t impressed with the opening death scene sequence, but the launched tire that eviscerated that woman’s head was awesome (even if momentary). And while the death sequences feel less thoughtful and elaborate in this sequel, there is something cathartic in seeing a mean racist lit on fire and being dragged behind his car down the street. There’s also a startlingly abrupt Terry-esque (i.e., FD1) car-splat death. But the best death of the movie was the escalator scene.

We’re definitely missing the magical tension from parts 1-2 (even part 3). But the most satisfying sequences would include the hair salon death scene, and I did enjoy seeing the mechanic get “cubed” despite the weak CGI. The car wash scene feels hokey but just goofy enough to entertain. And the pool drain death is dumb but mildly satisfying since the shallow frat guy (Hunt) got it the worst—anal disembowelment. Hunt deserved it. He’s in a sex scene that is somehow less classy than Friday the 13th (2009; with Trent). Everyone dies in the end as if they had never escaped death in the first place. Not a very satisfying ending, although I liked the X-Ray death-o-Vision.

This felt more like some random horror flick than a FD movie for reasons best explained in this excerpt from the Final Destination 3 (2006) review: “…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.”

If Final Destination (2000) is a great horror film, Final Destination 2 (2003) is a great horror movie, and Final Destination 3 (2006) is just a fun “flick,” then this fourth film falls into the same territory as a Wrong Turn 3-6. Yeah, you’ll have fun watching the death scenes and gore and tropiness. But if you compare it to its source material (i.e., part 1), you’ll be bothered by the lack of substance.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2019 9:02 am

    Good review and totally agree. Love the first gif, that was a classic when the tire came flying out there. I was thinking I wish someone would shut her up. And well, she did, in the most awesome way.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 20, 2019 9:58 am

      Thankfully, I watched FD5 the next day. Soooo much better and finally, like in part 1, characters I really like and care about again. Plus, funny.


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