Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
"Final Destination" was so disturbing to watch that I had to leave my seat and curl up in a ball in the aisle of the theatre, not that THAT will save me from the nightmares I'm going to have. How many times have YOU walked down that long, sterile hall at the airport with absolute conviction that every scary thing you've every heard about air travel was true? Never? Lucky you. I'm the passenger that one of the pilots winds up reassuring, followed by the helpful flight attendant who suggests that maybe I'm so afraid because I was a bomber pilot in a previous lifetime! Or maybe it's just movies like "The High And The Mighty," " Crowded Sky," "Fate Is The Hunter" And The "Airport" quadrilogy.
"Final Destination", in spite of the fact that the filmmakers give us every conceivable hint that they're Just Kidding, is creepier than any of the above. Devon Sawa, who began his career playing Casper the Friendly Ghost, is Alex Browning, due to take a class trip to Paris with forty members of his class. After he boards, he has a vision of disaster in the air and leaves the plane in a panic. Reluctantly, his teacher and five classmates accompany him to the waiting room, only to watch the plane explode in mid-air moments later. Except for a lonely girl named Clear Rivers (played by Ali Larter), they aren't the least bit grateful: they all feel uncomfortable about their brush with death and distrust Alex for his prescience. Faster then they can say, "When my number's up...," it IS up for most of them, one by one.
The FBI investigates! And here's where screenwriters Glen Morgan (who also produced) and James Wong (who also directed) really have fun with the horror genre. The FBI agents are named Weine and Schreck, as in the director of "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and the star of "Nosferatu" PLUS Weine is played by Daniel Roebuck, the yucky sociopathic killer of Tim Hunter's "River's Edge." Kristen Cloke plays a teacher named Val Lewton, after RKO'S creep maestro of the early 1940's. Coverboy "Roswell" alien Brendan Fehr plays the small role of George Waggner. His namesake was Universal's creep maestro, best known for directing "The Wolf Man." Brother Tod Waggner (Chad E. Donella) is Alex Browning's best friend (get it?: Tod Browning?) in the good old days before the air disaster. The morgue attendant Bludworth is played by Candyman Tony Todd, Billy HITCHCOCK is played by American Pie's Seann William Scott, Terry CHANEY is played by Amanda Detmer of "Drop Dead Gorgeous" and surnames like Murnau and Dreyer add to the fun.
Yet Morgan and Wong play it fair, they don't have such a good time with their own affection for the genre that they forget their job is to terrify us whenever possible. Death arrives in bathrooms & in kitchens, at street corners sparkling in the sunlight or dimly lit by the moon and even though we know that it will embrace us all eventually, we just don't want it to be now. "Final Destination" exploits that nagging realization to the hilt.
© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 3/15/00
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