Final Destination 3

Reviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 02/10/06 04:20:36

"Like the Apu Trilogy, only with more beheadings"
1 stars (Sucks)

Even though I am not unfamiliar with the pleasures to be had from a film that consists of little more than extended sequences of people being sliced, smashed, burned, pierced, pulped or some combination thereof, I have never been able to develop any sort of affection for the “Final Destination” films. For some reason, their blend of cheesy gore, cheesier dialogue and ill-advised attempts at black humor have always rubbed me the wrong way and even the signature moments of the series–the elaborate kill scenes that suggest that the Grim Reaper is both a student of Rube Goldberg and a subscriber to “Fangoria”–have grown repetitive over time. “Final Destination 3" is more of the same and while hard-core fans of the films–I suppose such creatures do exist–may be satisfied, anyone looking for scares, thrills or even some creative bloodshed is liable to slink away disappointed.

Like the previous entries, “Final Destination 3" kicks off as an anonymous teener has a vivid prediction of a major tragedy and manages to save themselves and a few others from the carnage, only to watch in horror as the survivors are picked off one by one as Death comes calling for the lives he was cheated out of the first time around. In the first film, the kids ducked a plane explosion and in the follow-up, they avoided a massive freeway accident. In perhaps a tacit admission that the films are running short of ideas, this one opens at an amusement park as Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a psychic flash of a roller-coaster disaster–she and a few others get off the ride just before it goes sailing into the air. Before long, the others begin dying in ridiculously bloody ways and Wendy and fellow survivor Kevin (Ryan Merriman) try to piece together who is going to go next in an attempt to save them. This time around, they are guided by a series of photos that vaguely suggest the manner of death. (The scene in which this is explained is perhaps the low point of the series for the way that it tries to tie 9/11 into its horse-hockey theology.)

Upon hearing about hearing the roller-coaster element, I began fantasizing about an entire film revolving around amusement park-related deaths. A bloody bumper-car mishap, perhaps, or maybe a girl is suffocated after being dipped head-to-toe in the taffy apple caramel a la “Goldfinger.” Maybe someone could get wet on the log flume ride, catch a chill, go home and die of pneumonia four days later. For the finale, I see a sequence down by the games of chance at the midway where the ducks suddenly begin to fire back and nitroglycerine is dropped into the Whack-A-Mole game. Alas, the deaths here are disappointingly mundane. A couple of bubble-headed girls get roasted in a tanning bed malfunction (a sequence which seems to exist only to shoehorn some gratuitous nudity into the proceedings) while several others get their heads reduced to go in various ways. My favorite is the one that is set within the walls of a Home Depot-esque hardware superstore; it isn’t very creative or scary but I have a wild and unnatural fear of such establishments (based on my mistrust of any store large enough to stage full-sized recreations of Civil War battles and containing two-by-fours and chainsaws stacked 40 feet in the air above my head) and this film illustrates what I am convinced occurs in those places at least three or four times a day.

Aside from that, there really isn’t much of anything else to talk about. The kill scenes are all pretty repetitive–we are teased for several minutes with suggestions of how someone could be killed and then, just when all seems well, something completely unexpected (and yet completely predictable) pops up to splatter them all over the screen–and only serve to remind us that the only truly memorable death in the entire series was the girl getting smacked by a bus that came from out of nowhere in the original. The kids aren’t very interesting–neither sympathetic enough to root for them to live nor hateful enough to root for them to die–and the big climax, set during a Tricentennial celebration with fireworks and spooked horses, is so sloppy that it looks like it was cobbled together out of spare parts when the original version failed to live up to expectations. And in an apparent effort to keep horror fans from realizing how boring things are getting, the film is once again peppered with in-jokes as the characters are named after famous genre filmmakers (Terrence Fisher, George Romero, Robert Wise and Carl Dreyer are among those “honored” this time around.)

“Final Destination 3" is junk and while it may not hurt as much to watch as many of the recent lame-ass horror excursions that have been inflicted on audiences in recent months, it is only because the original films were dumb enough that the reduction in quality is barely discernible. However, a film like this will always find an audience with undiscriminating teenagers looking for something to see on a Saturday night. In fact, the only scary thing about “Final Destination 3" is that enough of them may show up to inspire New Line (the same people who brought you “A History of Violence” and “The New World,” mind you) to eventually inflict “Final Destination 4" on us.

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