Final Destination (2000)

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The first of a franchise makes its mark in this classic horror film from James Wong.

Preparing for a flight to Paris with his high school French class, Alex Browning has a vision of the plane crashing right after takeoff. He begins to panic and has a complete meltdown. Classmate and jock Carter Horton, upset at what’s happening, picks a fight with Alex. Alex, Carter, Carter’s girlfriend Terry, Alex’s buddy Tod, classmates Clear and Billy, and teacher Ms. Lewton all leave the plane. Needless to say, as they are detained by security, the plane explodes shortly after takeoff. The FBI get involved and think Alex is somehow involved with the crash.

However, things start to get very strange. It all begins when Tod is found strangled in his bathroom. When Terry is later killed by a moving bus, Alex begins to suspect something is happening. After realizing that the deaths involve the supposed victims of the crash, he suddenly comes up with a theory. As he and the others were supposed to have been in that crash, they have cheated death and now death is once again calling for them as they were fated to die. Now, as their group dwindles, Alex must find a way to once again cheat death before it’s too late.

James Wong’s film debut is this horror film with a lesson learned. When it’s your time, it’s your time. Writers Wong, Glen Morgan, and Jeffrey Reddick have come up with a brilliant concept of cheating death and its potential consequences. The story of a high schooler who has a premonition of a plane crash and then turns out to be correct may seem like a miracle. However, with that miracle comes death calling as it targets those who should have been on the plane but causing “accidents”.

Devon Sawa leads the way as Alex, the high schooler who at first, seems paranoid but as the film progresses, becomes determined to find a way to stop death from reoccurring. Ali Larter does a good job as Clear, the only one who starts to believe him while Kerr Smith plays the somewhat conceited Carter, who is convinced for most of the film that Alex is flat out crazy. Tony Todd brings mystery into the film as the mortician Bludworth, whose words give vital clues about the situation these kids are all involved in now after the flight.

The death scenes are quite a delight that will quench the horror film fan. From strangulation to stabbings and burns, the deaths are quite inventive for its time. What horror film fans will also get a kick out of is that most of the characters have last names based on classic horror stars and filmmakers. Alex’s last name comes from Tod Browning, the director of Freaks. Tod’s last name is Waggner, after George Waggner of The Wolf Man fame. Agent Schreck is after Max Schreck, star of Nosferatu and so on. It is quite an homage to the genre that adds its modern twist of inventive deaths.

Final Destination is the beginning of a franchise involving premonitions, cheating death, and the dire consequences of cheating death, led by great performances by Devon Sawa and cast.

WFG RATING: B

New Line Cinema presents a Zide-Perry Productions film in association with Hard Eight Pictures. Director: James Wong. Producers: Craig Perry, Warren Zide, and Glen Morgan. Writers: James Wong, Glen Morgan, and Jeffrey Reddick. Cinematography: Robert McLachlan. Editing: James Coblentz.

Cast: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Seann William Scott, Amanda Detmer, Kristen Cloke, Daniel Roebuck, Roger Guenveur Smith, Chad Donella, Tony Todd, Brendan Fehr, Forbes Angus.

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