Anyone would think that being able to predict catastrophic events would be a good thing. If you had that ability, then surely you could do something to prevent it from happening, or at least save a few people?
Alex first becomes able to foretell a terrible happening just minutes before he’s actually involved in one. About to embark on a school trip with his classmates, he’s on the plane when he has a terrifying premonition in the form of a vivid dream.
His panic causes him, his teacher and a handful of his peers to be escorted from the plane.
The ejected few are understandably angry until their plane explodes shortly after take-off.
Emotions are mixed in the following weeks. Alex is suspected of being a terrorist and his fellow survivors are lost in a mixture of feelings, from grief and relief to suspicion and anger.
But sadly for them, the drama doesn’t end there. Although they survived incineration thanks to Alex, it seems that someone (or more accurately, something) still wants them dead. And as they try to piece together their fractured minds an invisible force is stalking them making Alex’s sneak previews of forthcoming events (his premonitions) their only hope for survival.
On the surface, Final Destination is just another teen horror movie. But after just a few minutes of viewing, it becomes apparent that the concepts contained within this seemingly generic film are fresh and intriguing.
The opening plane scene is impactful and absorbing, giving you a taste of the sheer horror of being involved in such an experience. As the plane is violently broken apart the audience engages with the passengers and shortly afterward, the survivors, creating an empathic bond that remains throughout.
As the tale progresses we learn, courtesy of a mortuary employee (none other than the Candyman, Tony Todd) that it is death itself that is pursuing the survivors. But rather than give in to the inevitability, the group work together to try to prevent Alex’s predictions from coming true in the hope that, if you avoid death’s advances long enough, it might just spare you.
The appeal of final destination resides in the action scenes, and by ‘action’ I mean the scenes where death stalks his prey.
In this film, death is a crafty and devilish entity. After being unsuccessful in its attempt to kill all on the passengers on the Paris bound flight, it goes all out to make accidents happen. This ranges from creating water leaks and starting fires to cutting power lines and making a call stall on a train track.
The clever chains of events that lead to the accidents intended to kill the survivors create immense tension, leading the viewer to squirm in their seat, desperate to help the victim on screen.
The character dynamics are also very good for a film of this calibre, taking the film out of the realms of ‘just another teen horror movie’ and creating a film that is far fetched, but realistic.
For instance, the way that the relatives of the dead flight passengers treat Alex is quite plausible and realistic.
In the same way, the other survivors don’t immediate show gratitude to him, as they too struggle with grief and are suspicious of him.
This is made all the more convincing with some engaging performances by the cast, from Devon Sawa leading as the unlikely hero with just the right balance of fear, courage and mania to Seann William Scott (Stiffler) providing some mild comic relief as goofy Billy Hitchcock.
The end result is a film that’s highly entertaining, very absorbing and is very hard to fault. If only all teen horror movies could achieve this same balance of tension, excitement and originality.