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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 32.92%
Just Average: 14.29%
Pretty Crappy: 11.8%
Sucks: 4.35%

8 reviews, 113 user ratings

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Final Destination
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by EricDSnider

"Once you get the joke, it's great fun."
4 stars

It was about half-way through "Final Destination" that I finally caught on: I shouldn't be laughing AT this movie; I should be laughing WITH it.

For 45 minutes or so, I'd been slapping my forehead over how lame, how contrived, how infernally perfunctory it all seemed to be. It was puzzling: After all, it was written by Glen Morgan and David Wong (and directed by Wong), two guys responsible for writing/directing/producing some of the best "X-Files" episodes in that show's history. They should know how to construct suspense, creepiness and supernatural chills.

Yet "Final Destination" was, from its very first moments, exaggeratedly ominous. High-schooler Alex Browning (Devon Sawa), preparing to go to France on a school-sponsored trip with his classmates, gets freaked out by everything: the word "terminal" on an airport sign; the fact that his flight leaves at 9:25 and his birthday is 9/25; hearing a song by plane-crash victim John Denver before boarding; even his dad saying "you've got the rest of your life ahead of you" gets a thundering DUM-DUM-DUMMMMMMM! on the musical score.

Upon boarding the plane but before takeoff, Alex has a sweaty dream in which the plane explodes immediately after leaving the ground. This causes him to REALLY freak out, getting him and six others kicked off the plane in a manner that is waaay too convenient, after which the plane leaves the ground and immediately explodes.

When those lucky survivors start dying in freaky ways, it becomes apparent that Death didn't like being cheated, and that Death is going to take everyone anyway -- and in the same order they should have died on that plane.

We learn this when Alex and misfit girl Clear (Ali Larter) break into a mortuary so they can see a recently deceased fellow crash survivor and are met by a throaty-voiced mortician (Tony Todd) who tells them how Death operates, and how Death has a design that you can't mess with, and then ends by telling the kids, ominously, "I'll see you soon."

And THAT'S when it hit me. The idea of the teens breaking into a mortuary for ill-explained reasons was ridiculous enough. But the over-the-top scene featuring a creepy mortician whose name is Bludworth -- who NEVER APPEARS AGAIN IN THE REST OF THE FILM -- made me realize that it was all on purpose! Of course Morgan and Wong know what they're doing. When it was exaggerated for the first 20 minutes or so, I should have known it was on purpose, tweaking the genre of supernatural-yet-somehow-plausible-sounding thrillers that Morgan and Wong perfected on "X-Files."

After that, I could enjoy the film for what it was: occasionally thrilling, often weirdly funny, always at least watchable, if not a brilliant piece of art.

There are enough subtle details in the film indicating Morgan and Wong's savvy intelligence to let you know that whatever is dumb about the movie -- like the way characters always seem to run into each other at just the right moments -- is done on purpose. One of the characters' last names is Hitchcock; another is Val Lewton (the same name as a '40s producer of horror films). There are two different scenes in which we see Tod (Chad E. Donella, who played the brain-eater on a recent "X-Files") sitting on the toilet. John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" is used as a harbinger of imminent death.

Plus, there are several non-subtle things that show Wong's skill as a director. The envisioned plane-crash scene is terrifyingly real and brilliantly crafted. One death later on is so out-of-the-blue it made every critic I sat near at the screening recoil (and a few of us even yelped). And the elaborate, Rube Goldberg ways that some characters are killed are inventive (better than the traditional knife-in-the-gut, anyway).

The acting? Ech, typical. Sawa and Donella are particularly likable, if somewhat non-descript, and everyone else muddles through OK. The movie doesn't need Olivier-quality acting, nor does it get it.

"X-Files" fans will be delighted at the many similarities between that show and this film. The basic premise reeks of "X-Files" influence, and the fact that Alex's visions are thoroughly explained except for the detail of WHY and/or HOW he has them is classic "X-Files" methodology: We'll tell you what strange power a person has, but we won't tell you how he got it. Whenever Death is nearby, we see a dark shadow pass across something. The two FBI agents investigating the plane crash are every bit as uncool and useless as Mulder and Scully are interesting and compelling. And Alex even gives the speech Mulder usually gets, the one that says, in essence, "What if what's happening is that we somehow cheated Death, but now Death is coming back to get us anyway?" (All we need is for someone to respond, "You expect me to put in my report that Death is coming back to get us because we tricked him?")

Trust Morgan and Wong. Relax when the film seems hokey. Enjoy the details and the humor that emerges at inappropriate times. You'll have fun.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=3848&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/04/03 00:12:29
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User Comments

9/12/17 morris campbell not bad but nothing special 3 stars
12/27/09 dhanashree patil its the best film 5 stars
2/16/09 action movie fan good twilight Zone style shocker-opening scene draws from number 22 tz episode 4 stars
7/23/08 Shaun Wallner This movie was Awesome!! Loved It. 5 stars
8/25/07 Quigley A very original modern horror film; very rare! Terrible ending. I'd recommend it 4 stars
7/30/07 David Risser good thriller! 4 stars
2/12/07 Anthony Feor I'll admit it is sometimes scary, however, the plot hole are not. (3/5) 3 stars
11/05/06 Chris Really enjoyed this movie 4 stars
10/04/06 Booksworm This is on a very short list of scary movies I'd watch. 5 stars
8/04/06 Stanley Thai A smart thriller, not horror, IMO. No slashers but good kills and acting. 4 stars
2/21/06 sharon best moive in years 5 stars
11/15/05 Lacy Brewster Scary, but good 4 stars
10/04/05 tony the movie is fine but then again, crap 3 stars
9/04/05 Tom Burns The death scenes are jaw dropping. their awesome. 5 stars
6/23/05 Monday Morning Rocks 5 stars
6/01/05 Chris A true horror classic! 5 stars
1/22/05 Darryl So, another teen horror flick. But the reason (plot) for the bloodbath is original. 4 stars
10/30/04 lucas worth a look 4 stars
9/10/04 jeff good excitement. didnt get much media attention!!! nice name VARUNA,haha 4 stars
8/02/04 magaafi VARUNA & DM, GO FUCK URSELFS!! GOOD MOVIE, U MUST WATCH!!!! 5 stars
6/22/04 Fabian Ramirez it waz the shizznik 5 stars
6/09/04 molly watch it everyday!!!! bring on the third one!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/06/04 samantha best film ever 5 stars
2/05/04 DM Totally overdone, with 3rd-rate philosophy 1 stars
12/08/03 Ricky a very suspensful flick, it was really great!! 5 stars
11/24/03 Thiago first one is really good, second one is great.... bring us the third one! 4 stars
11/03/03 American Slasher Goddess More original then alot of the new teen slashers, but hampered by an anti-climatic ending. 4 stars
10/17/03 Littlepurch Could have done with more death scenes like the train decapitation but still good for jumps 4 stars
9/25/03 Charles Tatum Interesting idea just starts repeating itself 3 stars
9/17/03 Samuel Justus Death itself was stalking the victims! one by one... 5 stars
8/23/03 jom awesome, by the way I was wondering if it's based on any novel 5 stars
7/13/03 Samuel Justus James Wong, Jeffery Reddick, and Glen Morgan Rule!!! One of the greatest films of all time! 5 stars
5/24/03 R.W. Welch S. King might wish he had thought of this one. Overdone in spots but cleverly constructed. 4 stars
5/07/03 idie hott movie,- captivating, suspenseful, and intriguing 5 stars
4/24/03 Bill makes the top 20 worst films ever. Fucken rubbish. 1 stars
4/15/03 Jack Bourbon Fun. Poor teenies. 4 stars
3/28/03 NYTRANSIT417 Guts and Blood Fly...leaving me thinking...Howd they do that? 5 stars
3/23/03 Sam Bucus the Elder The Stunning Ali Larter saves this from one of the most screwy premises in cinematic histry 4 stars
2/19/03 Dave Occasionally amusing, but ultimately shite. 2 stars
2/05/03 Chris Death Takes A Holiday, And We Get To See A Stupid Horror Movie 1 stars
2/03/03 y2mckay Oz, Tony Todd was not playing Death in this film. Shit-funny review tho. 3 stars
10/22/02 palaboy101 watch out! you could be next! (knock on wood) 4 stars
6/11/02 crush A great film. 5 stars
6/06/02 stud cool 5 stars
5/18/02 Jon Artus Do you know what would make this movie good? Throw it away and watch South Park instead... 1 stars
4/21/02 lll Better than most teenage crap out there. 4 stars
4/07/02 Monster W. Kung I mean, come on. 2 stars
3/01/02 Alan Smithee Pretty good stuff. Suffers from an obviously tacked on ending. Ali Larter's hot. 4 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Slightly engaging. Fun. 4 stars
1/26/02 Tiffany Thunderhurst Ali Larter, most underrated actress around, can make even a brain-dead premise rock! 5 stars
1/25/02 Lucy Crosland Superb! Please cast Ali Larter in more like this. Dont waste her in trash like Legally Blon 5 stars
1/12/02 hd the best ever 5 stars
1/10/02 jessica gg xcellent film, really unexpected and thoughtfull!!! 5 stars
12/12/01 ben wasden A fun ride with at least two scenes that will make you jump out of your skin. 5 stars
12/07/01 Mr Math Better than most teen thrillers, but that's not saying a lot. Still pretty dull. 3 stars
10/30/01 Sumixam Can see why the X-Files is so great, go you good things! 5 stars
10/01/01 Phoenix Well crafted, and better than a lot of the horror films out there. 4 stars
9/12/01 Gary Pure entertainment. Funny, clever and an brilliant ending. 5 stars
8/12/01 Jake Not scary, bad effects stupid ideas and lame characters. 2 stars
8/05/01 badfish Great,full of surprises,Loved it! 5 stars
8/03/01 sarah The concept was interesting but it fell flat quick 2 stars
7/28/01 Steve This wasn't horror, it was SUSPENSE, get it right! Still scared me shitless. Good storyline 5 stars
7/02/01 Lisa & Steph seann william scott is HOT!!!!! 5 stars
6/19/01 King Jackass Sure to be a cult classic. 5 stars
6/13/01 H Totally predictable, utterly stupid 1 stars
4/09/01 Gary This is a really good movie but it's really scary. SEE IT IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY! 5 stars
2/15/01 Shezz Best horror film i've ever seen!!! 5 stars
2/10/01 Amanda Thompson Best Horror movie I have seen in a long time! Chad Donella was excellent!! 5 stars
2/07/01 Bender A very good premise, but only half successful. 3 stars
2/03/01 Del R Way better than the scream series for sure 4 stars
1/22/01 Lyndsay I think some of the people on here never gave it a chance. 4 stars
1/08/01 Monday Morning Smart, fun & wonderful...everything that "Scary Movie" WASN'T! 5 stars
12/29/00 Piper It's in the league of horror classics such as The first nightmare on elm street etc. 5 stars
12/04/00 Izzy This movie is amazing! best movie for its category! 5 stars
12/02/00 Bicster Too predictable and painful to watch 1 stars
11/13/00 The EVIL Penguin Pretty scary, but thin plot. 3 stars
10/01/00 seany pooh yeah baby it rocks and kills and slashes and etc. etc 5 stars
9/19/00 Jeff 1 slick thriller!! 5 stars
9/13/00 Guadalupe the best movie of the year! 5 stars
9/07/00 Tdis72 A very good film, not exactly scary but somewhat funny and very shocking. 5 stars
7/03/00 Tandi It was the best 5 stars
6/09/00 Bender Great premse pretty much wasted in this uneven movie, plus a dreadful ending. 3 stars
5/26/00 Chopper3 What a great ""switch-brain-off" film, great shocks, good direction overall, acting was ok. 5 stars
5/20/00 mellemel If there wasn't any dialogue, I would give it five stars. 3 stars
5/20/00 Matthew Bartley Scary and disturbing, It works better cos it isn't ironic or self-aware 5 stars
5/04/00 Michelle I loved this movie. It was so exciting. I had my mouth open for most of the movie. 5 stars
4/29/00 Fishsticks Scary as hell. 'Cause it doesn't think itself funny. Mostly hole-free plot, too. 4 stars
4/24/00 Obi Wan Loved the flick..but who wrote the dialogue? Can "I'm Not going to die" be anymore obvious 4 stars
4/23/00 Benjamin Lesbian A very pleasant surprise from the duo that basically made the X-FILES what it is today. 5 stars
4/15/00 Zeitgeist gret concept, yes, but do we REALLY need all those holes in the plot? 2 stars
4/14/00 Des I totally enjoyed this movie...made me jump! 5 stars
4/10/00 LoveGravy shock/vomit/disgust-inducing movie-writing sucks,but good for nonjaded gore-seeking viewers 4 stars
4/10/00 kohawk ONLY redeeming quality this movie has are the creative death scenes. 3 or 4 of them 2 stars
4/09/00 EMagGaRony this is some freaky shit.... scares you so bad you don't want to drive home 5 stars
4/08/00 "Persnickety" freaky as hell, scared the shit out of me, though silly at times! 5 stars
4/07/00 AlexClare13 I loved the actors the plot, everything! 5 stars
4/03/00 Donna lots of blood and guts! keeps you guessing 4 stars
4/01/00 Randall Didn't change my perception of the whole concept of death, but it was a fun movie 4 stars
3/26/00 arnold fantastic but dumb ending 5 stars
3/26/00 frizz GREAT movie! it changed my perception of the whole death concept 5 stars
3/25/00 Froggirl Never have I seen so much suspense! Death scenes were elaborate and great. Leaves u thinkin 5 stars
3/25/00 Froggirl Never have I seen so much suspense! Death scenes were elaborate and great. Leaves u thinkin 5 stars
3/22/00 Ben Ryan Makes you appreciate life more.. and fucks up your head at the same time! 5 stars
3/20/00 Lame-Oh makes Scream look like Turbulence on ludes 3 stars
3/19/00 Girl9 Interesting concept, worth seeing on a big screen! 5 stars
3/18/00 frank good flick 5 stars
3/18/00 JustinR2001 The most sensationally terrifying horror flick of the decade. Watch out for the bus! 5 stars
3/18/00 Captain Highcrime Does anybody else remember there was a HS class going to France aboard TWA 800? Unnerving. 4 stars
3/18/00 kelly the movie was soooooo good!!!! scary, and it really made u think!!!! i suggest u go see it! 5 stars
3/18/00 Zantetsuken Not a bad concept, but predictable at times. Good scares if you go in not being big headed. 4 stars
3/17/00 Bludworthy Sensationally intense -- graphic & creative death scenes & an abruptly shocking end. Whoa! 5 stars
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  17-Mar-2000 (R)
  DVD: 17-Jan-2006


  13-Apr-2000 (M)

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