A Fine Scarefest
Nothing pleases a critic more than seeing a movie that is much better than expected. Final Destination, a teen horror flick, falls into this category. The terrifying opening scenes alone make this frightening film worth the price of admission. And, strong performances by a wonderful group of young actors keep it from being just another gruesome scarefest.
Because of my extreme fear of flying, I found the movie quite disturbing to watch in parts. Although there have been many plane crashes in films before, this is the first one that made me feel I was sitting in the cabin when it happened.
The story centers on six people who get off a plane when one of them (Devon Sawa) has a vision of the craft exploding on takeoff. This astonishing event causes them to question everything related to it. Did they cheat death? Was it really their time to die? If so, is there any way to keep death from coming after them to even the score?
Sawa (Idle Hands) projects just the right amount of frustration as Alex Browning, a high school student with the gift of clairvoyance. Because of Sawa’s frenetic, nervous approach to this challenging role, I became concerned for his character right away. I desperately wanted everything to work out for him.
The awestruck people Alex saves alternate between blaming him and thanking him. There’s his two skeptical friends (Seann William Scott and Chad E. Donella), a young woman (Ali Larter) who believes in Alex’s visions, a bully (Kerr Smith), his girlfriend (Amanda Detmer), and a teacher (Kristen Cloke). Each cast member managed to hold my attention in some rather farfetched scenes, but Larter (Varsity Blues), in particular, stands out. She can look forlorn, afraid, and sexy with the best of them.
Filmmakers Glen Morgan (producer/screenwriter) and James Wong (director/screenwriter) come highly qualified for the thriller genre. Their work on television’s The X-Files earned them several Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe Award in 1996. They now serve as executive producers on The Others for DreamWorks Television and NBC. Working from a story by New Line Cinema marketing assistant Jeffrey Reddick, this talented team aimed to do for planes and air travel what Jaws did for sharks and swimming. It worked for me!
In addition to all its bone-chilling action, Final Destination reminds us of our own mortality and of how important life is. How many other horror flicks can make this claim?
(Released by New Line Cinema and rated "R" for strong language, terror, and violence.)