In some ways, the Final Destination series can feel like a little bit of a fever dream. It almost doesn’t feel like they even happened at all, really. This held opinion can be attributed to a number of different explanations.
First and foremost, it isn’t exactly like Final Destination itself is a memorable franchise in and of itself. For certain, Final Destination decides props for making everyone uncomfortable every time we drive behind a truck loaded with a bunch of logs, but as far as performances are concerned and the characters, Final Destination is a bit of a lightweight.
It feels like the relic of a bygone era, with a playfulness reminiscent of eighties slasher flicks, and yet, at the same time, feels very much like a product of the 2000s. The 2000s? When I think about mainstream horror franchises that broke out in the turn of the millennium, all my mind ever thinks about is the Saw films. You had Rob Zombie‘s Halloween and a slew of other slasher remakes as well, and, in late 2007, we were introduced to Paranormal Activity, but as far as big time horror that rocked through most of the decade – it’s gotta be Saw. However, Final Destination had four films that decade (five in total), and they all did well at the box office, with the fifth film out-grossing any of the Saw films.
But, at the same time, that is part of Final Destination’s allure, isn’t it? It is the definition of fun horror, filled to the brim with stupid fun Rube Goldberg – like occurrences, happening from a force of nature comparable to Death himself. Although having a faceless antagonist likely hurt Final Destination’s merchandise sales, it was a genuinely neat and different way to go about it, and I appreciate that.
Final Destination 3, as you’d assume, is the third installment in the series. It may seem obvious and redundant to mention, but I am prepping you for the fourth.
I am reviewing the series out of order as you can tell (so, don’t worry if you can’t find a review of the original or second film just yet), simply because when I re-watched them, I never wrote my review and too much time has went by for them to be fresh in my mind.
The film was directed by James Wong, who also directed the original film. Since this film, Wong’s feature film career has largely went out with a whimper (last directed Dragonball Evolution), however, his writing can also be seen in successful series’ like American Horror Story and The X-Files.
The film stars the wonderful Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ryan Merriman, who worked together previously in The Ring Two.
Similar to previous Final Destinations, 3 is about a character’s premonition of their death, that character intervening, saving themselves and others, and then, the ramifications of that. Basically, it is the idea that Death has a set path in place for everyone, and that by breaking from its set path, Death restarts the cycle and tries to remedy the mistake. This can mean anything from falling into a manhole, or something much more elaborate – Death loves Mouse Trap or setting up dominoes to watch them fall down.
It is a very straightforward, simple film, but I found it actually very watchable. It does, for better and for worse, call back to eighties horror cinema, with a junk food style horror that is a lot of fun.
Some aspects I could’ve done without, like the sleazy, horny man who constantly harasses women, and that general odor that sometimes radiates throughout the film. At the same time, I do appreciate that the film understands that it is bad behavior and that the audience sees it as bad behavior, wanting you to root for that character’s demise. It is one more way Final Destination plays into so many old-school slasher tropes.
The cast and characters are decent, if, still, nothing to write home about. Mary Elizabeth Winstead does a lot of the heavy lifting in the film, in terms of performance. The film is mostly about the concept, not about the characters, so it isn’t at all like she is in a position to deliver an Oscar-worthy performance, but she does well. For these B-movie horrors, the most you can ask for is that they find a leading lady or man, and have that actor be likable enough. Winstead is likable and does actively succeed at bringing a little bit of notability to her performance.
Final Destination 3 received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics when it was released.
As far as receptions are concerned, that’s par for the course for Final Destination in-general. Truth is, it also makes a lot of sense and I can’t really chalk it up to pretentious, pompous film critics becoming too riled up about a stupid fun film. If you pick it apart, you’ll ruin it, like most popcorn flicks. It is guilty of using a lot of the same ingredients I’ve certainly bashed before in other horrors.
All the same, I unabashedly liked Final Destination 3. The death scenes are fun and creative, and although the characters can vary (we have a Mean Girl style duo and a sleazy pervert, for instance), everything is kept afloat by Winstead, and Ryan Merriman, for that matter.
It is a decent supernatural horror film and a fun feather in the cap of everyone involved.