Final Destination 3

May 11th, 2006 Film, Film Reviews, Xpress

Written and Directed by James Wong

Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryan Merriman, Kris Lemche, Alexz Johnson, Sam Easton, Jesse Moss.

One of the first lines ever spoken by a major character in the Star Wars saga, and subsequently in every film in the series after that, is ‘I have a bad feeling about this’.

It could have been the tagline for all three Final Destination movies. What’s most interesting is the idea behind the story; it’s so beautifully simple it could have been made into anything, from a brooding ghost story for grown ups or a broad romantic comedy.

If you’re new to the series, the concept is that death is almost a living thing that claims people in a certain order and in certain ways. But when people have premonitions and save themselves and others they upset death’s apple cart, and it tracks them down to kill them in the order they were supposed to go.

James Wong (a writer and director from The X Files) plucked this simple premise out of the ether of untold stories and chose to make it into a gruesome teen horror film. As such, the accident is always something grand and gruesome, the methods death uses to claim those denied it freakish and shockingly violent.

In the first film the hero tried to warn people the plane they were all about to board was going to crash. He convinced a handful to disembark with him, and the plane crashed. The rest of the story dealt with the race against death as it claimed its victims one by one in some of the most inventive movie deaths ever committed to celluloid.

This time, graduating high school student Wendy (Winstead) is at the celebration carnival with her friends and boyfriend. She’s been having funny feelings of worry all night, and they turn to dread when the group gets on the terrifying, devil-themed roller coaster. The ride takes off and it all goes bad as we’re treated to a white-knuckle ride before the ride crashes in spectacular and bloody fashion and Wendy watches her friends and classmates flung, dropped or crushed to horrible deaths.

Just when you let go of the armrest and the circulation comes back, we join Wendy still sitting at the starting platform and realise she’s imagined the whole thing. It’s enough for her though. She freaks out and demands to be let off the ride, and in their irritation at the delay, several people join her. Despite her pleas they let the ride go, and a crash and scream from above her as security bustles her off is the start of a nightmare’

Plagued by guilt following the horrific death of so many classmates including her boyfriend and best friend, Wendy intends to leave school and never look back, but the wildly improbable and bloodthirsty deaths aren’t over yet, and Wendy soon realises people are dying in the order they got off the ride. What’s more, they’re dying in incredible twists of fate no intelligence on this earth could possibly plan.

Together with her dead friend’s boyfriend Kevin (Merriman), the race is on as Wendy tries to cheat death any way she can and try to get the remaining survivors to listen to her. All she and Kevin have to go on are the digital photos from the night of the tragedy (allowing for so much product placement from Apple Computer they must have paid for half of the production). If Wendy and Kevin look carefully enough, the photos tell the story of all the horrible deaths yet to happen.

Look at the title and look at the poster; don’t go expecting an arthouse comment on the nature of society. It’s a movie about teenagers for teenagers. If you’re one you’ll love it, and if you remember being one you’ll remember what you loved about movies like it. There’s a smattering of nudity, a lot of pretty, frightened people, and a lot of blood, guts and violent death. It’s not scary in the classic horror movie sense, but it’s full of scenes so creatively perverse you can’t help but laugh out loud when you imagine how someone thought it all up.

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