Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The TV held but just our movies –
I watched all the Final Destinations, and as a head’s up, I’m gonna let you know something: All of our final destinations are dead. We are all going to die. And if Death in real life is like Death in these movies, we are going to die missing eyeballs and shoulders and teeth. There is no such thing as a pretty corpse. I really should not have watched all these before taking a 10 hour-round trip car ride this weekend, because now I am pretty concerned. So, if this is the last thing I write, well, let it be known that I’m just glad it wasn’t the Gingerdead series.
So that kid who played the human version of Casper and tried to make it with young Christina Ricci is now in high school, going by the name of Alex. Alex is spoiled and his high school is incredibly well funded, because he and several students are planning on taking a trip to France. Once Alex and his one-percent friends get on the plane, he closes his eyes and has a vision, not of croissant and fromage and jambon but of an exploding plane and a lot of human barbecue. This causes him to freak out a bit, resulting in an on-plane fight, and because this movie was made pre-Sept. 11, he just gets suspiciously tossed from the plane instead of arrested when he announces the plane is going to go pop. Unfortunately, Alex’s premonition comes true, and the plane lights up the night sky, leaving a few survivors from the aforementioned mele. While most of us would feel we had a new lease on life, Alex is broody and concerned, because, did he cheat Death? And if so, was that fair to Death? These are the deep questions of his time. Luckily, Death is able to answer Alex’s questions, and that answer is, “Yes, you did and no, it’s not.”
For the rest of the movie we have several sweet, glorious death scenes. This is what I am talking about, the senseless death of people who have yet to have their bodies ravaged by time and gravity. You know what’s fun? Seeing a guy get strangled in the shower. Seeing a guilt-riddled teacher take a kitchen knife to the throat. Seeing a hysterical dude get beheaded. So there’s lots of death in this movie, which is expected as Death is our antagonist, plus you get bonus screentime with Candyman, who is playing Super Unsettling Local Mortician Man.
Is this deep? No. Have I questioned my own mortality? Well, yes, but I was born an existential crisis with opposable thumbs, so it ain’t the movie’s fault. Is this fun? Why yes it is. You can’t beat the combination of late ’90s terrible fashion (RIP Doc Martens) and late ’90s actors dying (RIP Stifler). Final Destination has killed many, and like my own dying youth, and I could not escape it.
FILM-TO-FINAL DESTINATION EQUIVALENT: Being told you have to go out to dinner with your extended family at Red Lobster, only to find out it was a ruse by your best friend and you get to go to New Orleans for a long weekend instead.
FINAL DESTINATION 2
Here’s a problem I have in movies: When kids talk to parents in ways no kid would ever talk to a parent in real life. That’s why I don’t feel bad when, a few minutes into our second Final Destination, a bunch of college kids with smart mouths get plowed over on the interstate. Deuces, y’all. A bad attitude gets you nowhere. CAUTIONARY TALE YOU GUYS.
Of course, we have the same premise: A college student, Kimberly, is heading to Daytona Beach for spring break, which is a surefire indicator that the scriptwriter is not Southern, because we know everyone goes to PCB, y’all. However, she has a vision of death and highway destruction and causes a traffic jam which basically ends up saving her, a moderately good-looking cop, and some other a-holes. Kimberly learns of what we are going to call The Curse of Flight 180, and while the other survivors of the highway derby are getting impaled through the eyeballs and bludgeoned by bricks (delicious, delicious), our heroine seeks out the last remaining survivor of the first movie, Clear Rivers, who I maybe should have mentioned before this, but she’s dull so who cares? Anyway, Clear Rivers had hippy parents who didn’t love her and now lives in a loony bin, which is why Kimberly feels it imperative she take her advice to watch out for Death, as if he is an overweight frat guy in a bar waving around a bottle labeled “Free Drugs.” Anyway, Kimberly and Officer Not So Bad actually make a return visit to Super Unsettling Local Mortician Man, who says that new life can squash old death -- and since one of the survivors is pregnant ... See where this is going?
You guys, there is just so much Death in the rest of this movie -- elevators of death, PVC pipes of fury, airbags of mutiny, oxygen tanks of destruction -- I mean, at some point I really think I would just give up and let Death take me because running from this shit has to be exhausting and I honestly don’t think I have the cardiovascular health to try to outrun such a determined foe. Anyway, babies are born and people die and Kimberly thinks she has saved herself and Cop I Guess He’s OK except, wait, Death can literally wait around on you FOREVER and boom! Having a barbecue is a terrible idea if you think you may be prone to disaster.
FILM-TO-FINAL DESTINATION EQUIVALENT: Planning a flight to Las Vegas and forgetting your purse at home, thus having to miss the flight and take a later one, which ends up allowing you to get your room freebie bumped to a sweet-ass jacuzzi suite at the casino at which you are planning on staying due to your late arrival.
FINAL DESTINATION 3
Wendy is a high school student with control issues, which is why she is a perfect candidate to a) go to the fair and see a vision of a roller coaster ride from Death and b) be slightly annoying so you don’t really want her to live.
Wendy saves herself and some of her fellow students from a scene that really put me off Six Flags for the foreseeable future, and then the fun for me and bad times for them begins. After learning about The Curse of Flight 180 (I do appreciate the acknowledgement of the original in the subsequent films) Wendy doesn’t buy in that she cheated Death until some pals die in a very unfortunate tanning bed accident. Of course, then it clicks in her head, and instead of just trying to find a safe place, she gets in a car with a friend and they drive around because you know what’s safe when Death is in hot pursuit? RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS. (Shoutout to that movie, what what!) Despite her desperate attempts to save her friends, they all die in a series of delightful, gruesome ways -- including my favorite death, that of a swole football player who literally has his head squoze off, as well as a very fun impalation.
But in the end Wendy thinks she’s broken the curse and goes about her life in mundane, control freak fashion, until waaaaait, Death has been out back having a smoke break for about five months or so, and guess what? He’s back! The best thing about these movies is that the antagonist is something we all fear in real life, unless you’re suicidal or have a death wish or just a really shitty life, in which case, well, call a hotline or something.
FILM-TO-FINAL DESTINATION EQUIVALENT: Following your GPS to a nearby chicken and waffles joint, only to find that the GPS has sent you to a four-way stop, where if you turn left you go to a chicken restaurant, and if you go right, there are your waffles.
THE FINAL DESTINATION
Is there a reason why we couldn’t title this one “Final Destination 4,” because that’s what it is, you guys. This one takes a redneck turn, so feasibly it could actually be titled “Final Destination 4: Nick and Friends go to Nascar,” but no one asked me about fluid titles in film series, clearly.
Anyway, a speedway is a great place to die because speed, shrapnel and screaming. Luckily for us Nick and his friends escape, and we see the same pattern of death occurring from our aforementioned numbered titles. This one loses me a little bit because we have burning crosses and murderous lawns and a false death situation in a hair salon. Basically all the settings in this film feel a little bit like they took the set from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and started trying to kill people on it, and, honestly, it just seems a little mean spirited by Death, which, I mean, don’t those people already have it bad enough?
So here are the things you should avoid if you go to a small town and Death chases you: Everything, including escalators, cafes, trucks, air, water and fire.
FILM-TO-FINAL DESTINATION EQUIVALENT: Heading to meet your blind date, who looks just like Tom Hiddleston, in a perfect white summer dress, and upon arrival, climbing out of the car in front of Tom, who is glistening in the summer sun, realizing you’ve started your period two weeks early, left your change of clothes at home and are on a date with a man who only likes women who stand up all the time.
FINAL DESTINATION 5
There comes a point where you have sort of exhausted your theme, and I think we may be getting there. Now, granted, the deaths in these movies are phenomenal, really. I mean, impaled by a sail boat? I like that. I giggle at that. I clap my hands like a small child. But here’s the thing: I know someone will have a vision and everyone will try to stay alive. Is there not a way we can mix it up?
This movie does, however, offer up a pretty nifty intro, sort of James Bond-ish, but with more murdery undertones. I like that. After the intro we meet Sam, who has a vision (yep), then panics (yep), then saves some people (yep) only to get a visit by Coroner Candyman (who appears in 80 percent of these movies, which is a nice touch) who ominously reminds us, “Death does not like to be cheated.” But really, who does? Who is ever excited about being overcharged something, about losing a game because of a bad ref call, of failing a test because you got caught with your times tables written on gum wrappers? No one. Suggested slogan for this guy: “Death. He’s just like the rest of us.”
People die a lot in this movie, and I enjoy the fact that these movies really let the blood splatter. These are not tidy deaths. These are messy deaths. These are deaths that leave clothing ruined. These are deaths that one needs Clorox and professional cleaners to deal with, but they are not deaths that I am ever particularly sad about. I have no allegiance to these people. I am not emotionally connected. Every once in a while it’s nice for you to be sad about someone’s death in a movie, but by the time I got here, I was delighted to see one hateful bitch get her eyeball popped out of her head.
I am a monster.
But wait, while I initially thought this movie was meh, it tricks me! This movie brings things full circle! Redemption! Sam and his lady survive Death, right, and decide to go to … PARIS. ON FLIGHT 180. AND SOME DUDE FREAKS OUT AND IS ESCORTED OFF THE PLANE BUT OUR PROTAGONISTS DO NOT REMEMBER THE CURSE OF FLIGHT 180 UNTIL TOO LATE AND THE PLANE EXPLODES AND IT’S THE CIIIIIIRCLE OF LIIIIIIFE, IT KIIIIILLS US AAAAAAALLL.
FILM-TO-FINAL DESTINATION EQUIVALENT: Getting to go to Paris, your lifelong dream, and upon landing, breathing a sigh of relief that you didn’t get Flight 180ed, only you forgot that Parisians smoke all the time and you have severe asthma -- which means that sigh of relief just caused an attack that kills you.