Final Destination in its purest, original form was really a genre defining film. The idea of Death being sentient, having a design and catching up with the people that have escaped it was both novel and exciting.
A school trip to France begins with the party boarding the flight. Alex (Devon Sawa) is a nervous flyer and is using every excuse to add to his nerves before they take off. Shortly after take off the plane gets into difficulty and explodes, killing everyone aboard. The Alex wakes up, still on the same plane and the events from his dream/premonition start to happen. Needless to say he gets spooked and a small group of students (and a teacher) are expelled from the plane which then takes off, and then explodes as was foreseen. The escapees are then mysteriously hunted down and die in some pretty gruesome, elaborate and mostly unpredictable ways by some unseen entity.
Final Destination, and the sequels don’t hang around either, with the action starting pretty much straight away and then the catching up beginning almost straight after, one by one people are knocked off with hardly any downtime in between it seems. This film also manages to control the atmosphere throughout, always guessing where and when Death is going to strike next to reclaim what is his/its (what gender pronoun do you give Death??). The performances from the mostly teen cast are pretty good by horror film standards including a young Ali Larter (Clear), Seann William Scott (Billy) and Kerr Smith (Carter). There is some exposition from the mortician that is way over the top, but it is sold creepily by the Candyman (Tony Todd), who crops up in most of the many sequels.
The thing I remember most about this film is actually the marketing that it had. Shots of the cinema goers reactions when one of the deaths occurs…..
John Denver makes a lot of appearances, due to the method of his demise and the plot of this film, and his songs are diegetic rather than score being played over the film, which is a nice touch, incorporating it into the film even more so.
The deaths are spectacular and gruesome, although not as much as some of the sequels (which take the premise and definitely runs with it!). That it spawned numerous sequels goes to show how simple and effective this type of film is but as with any ongoing series we do unfortunately get diminishing returns, but even these multiple sequels are still trying new, ever inventive ways of dying a horrible, grisly, mutilated death!
Horror Rating: ★★★ ½☆
Overall Rating: ★★★ ½☆