Turn Back The Clock

Movie Review

Final Destination

Distributed By: New Line Cinema

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            What happens to us when we die?  What determines how we are to die and when?  What would you say if I told you that our deaths are by design…that Death had a plan for us and that Its design had to be followed.  We all know that no one cheats death, but what if your death was supposed to happen at a certain date and time and you somehow circumvented it? 

            In Final Destination, Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) and a bunch of high school classmates are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime.  They are headed to France and while everyone else is extremely excited, Alex is incredibly nervous.  While on the plane, Alex has a premonition of disaster that forces him to leave the plane.  A fight breaks out between Alex and another classmate Carter (Kerr Smith) and the two, along with a few other students, along with teacher Valerie Lewton (Kristen Cloke), are escorted off of the plane.  As it turns out, Alex’s premonition was correct and the plane explodes shortly after takeoff, those removed from the plane becoming the sole survivors of Flight 180.

            But what if Alex and his co-survivors were “scheduled” to die on that plane?  What if their deaths were a part of some design?  Alex becomes obsessed with this idea as the survivors of Flight 180 begin to die one by one.  The only person who believes Alex is Clear Waters (Ali Larter), the only student who was not escorted off of Flight 180.  Feeling a connection between herself and Alex at the moment that he experienced his premonition, Clear believes that Alex indeed saw something that prevented his death.  At first, she is reluctant to hear about Death’s Design, but as Alex’s ideas begin to take fruition, Clear can no longer deny that Alex is on to something.

            Can Alex, Clear and the remaining survivors of Flight 180 interrupt Death’s Design, thus cheating Death at Its own game, or will Death always come out victorious no matter how many times It is beaten?

            I remember seeing the trailer for Final Destination and thinking, “This is no ordinary horror film.  Yeah, there’s blood and gore, but this is a thinking man’s horror flick.”  I decided that I would definitely see this movie.  I had even visited the official site a number of times to check out information about the movie and to play the Death Clock game, a feature which supposedly predicted the hour and date of your death.  (Considering that I got a different date each time, it’s safe to assume that the game was just intended for someone’s morbid sense of fun.)  Unfortunately, Life’s Design stepped in and I was forced to wait until Final Destination was released for rental.  It was worth the wait!

            At 98 minutes, Final Destination is a relatively short film, but with all of the action throughout the movie, you hardly even notice the length.  Without giving away much of the film, I can honestly say that the writers are an interesting group of individuals who are incredibly imaginative in the death category.  The ways that some of these characters die and the clues that lead up to their “final destinations” are very inventive to say the least. 

            The acting in the film can be somewhat shotty, but that is often the case in horror flicks.  Devon Sawa did an excellent job as a teenager haunted by premonitions of his death and the deaths of his classmates.  Although not perfect in this film, Ali Larter gave us a hint of the layers of talent she possesses, talent that eventually won her the part of Niki Sanders on the hit television series Heroes.  Kristen Cloke’s performance was strange for me.  Knowing her as tough as nails Shane Vansen on Space: Above and Beyond, I couldn’t seem to connect this woman with the shell-shocked and terrified teacher she portrayed in Final Destination.  Maybe that’s a testimony to her acting skills…maybe that’s just proof that she wasn’t exactly suited for this role.  Kerr Smith was incredibly easy to hate in his role as Carter, which says something for his acting talents as it was a nice departure from the good guy roles, such as Jack on Dawson’s Creek.  For some, Final Destination roles weren’t much of a stretch – Seann Willliam Scott played the usual doofy character and Tony Todd portrayed an incredibly creepy coroner who gives you the impression that he and Death are on very intimate terms.  You may remember Todd from his portrayal of Candyman – ‘nuff said!

            The DVD Version of Final Destination contains quite a few interesting features.  I’m not a film commentary fan, but if you are one, there are three different commentaries to choose from – a filmmaker’s commentary, a cast commentary (featuring Devon Sawa, Kristen Cloke, Kerr Smith and Chad E. Donella) and a musical score commentary.  Remember that game I told you about – Death Clock?  That’s available to play on the DVD version as is the Psychic Game which determines just how potent your cognitive powers really are.  You can also check out the Theatrical Trailer and get tons of information about the cast and crew of Final Destination.

            The Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending sequences are very important features of this DVD as they would have completely changed the outcome of the film.  In the documentary The Perfect Soufflé: Testing Final Destination, we learn that the first test audience for the film was not in love with this version of Final Destination.  They felt that most of the film was a hit, but the ending, a thinking man’s ending, was not what they were looking for in a horror flick.  Thus, the powers that be deleted some scenes and changed the ending to suit their target audience.  While this may have worked then, I believe that the thinking man’s ending was the better of the two and may have played out very well to audiences of today.

            In another documentary, Premonitions, viewers meet Pam Coronado, a real person who uses her premonitions to help others.  We learn about her psychic powers – how they came about and how she came to accept these abilities – and how she uses them as an intuitive investigator to crack unsolved mysteries.

            Final Destination will always be a hit in my book as a movie that took horror films to a new level.  What makes this movie fun, even after watching it at least a dozen times, is trying to catch all the hidden clues that lead up to certain character’s deaths.  If you are really into cinematic symbolism, you’ll catch quite a few clues that your average film viewer wouldn’t even notice.

            I would have loved for the creators of the film to have stayed with the original cut of the film, but either cut works for me.  The fact that the deleted scenes from the original film are included in their entirety in the Special Features section and the fact that the documentaries are actually interesting and informative makes the Final Destination a must see DVD. 


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