Final Destination

2000, Movie, R, 97 mins


Panicky flyers be warned: The mid-air explosion that gets this cheesy shocker's plot rolling is a nasty piece of work, far scarier than any of the subsequent spooky goings-on. Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) is going on a high school trip to Paris with his friends. But as they board the plane he has a terrifying vision of the accident, and makes such a fuss that he's thrown off the plane; five classmates and a teacher also wind up sitting out the flight. To their collective horror, the plane blows up a few minutes after takeoff. Then the survivors start dying in freakish accidents, and Alex comes to realize that Death, a piss-poor loser, is coming for all of them. Co-written by first-timer Jeffrey Reddick and X-Files veterans Glen Morgan and James Wong, this Twilight Zoneish shocker is serviceable enough, if you come to it with sufficiently modest expectations; its virtues are all in the peripheral touches. Unlike most horror-movie teens, Alex and his friends genuinely try to grapple with the emotional fallout of premature death and survivors' guilt; their deep thinking is painfully shallow, but hey, at least the screenwriters are trying. The accidents that claim the survivors are oddly preoccupied with water and electricity — someone must have been traumatized at an early age by those vintage late-night PSAs that warned of the dangers lurking in ordinary homes — and at least one is staged with shocking economy and flair. But the characters are paper-thin, and many of the plot's contrivances are just plain silly. A word of advice to horror buffs-turned-filmmakers: Don't name all of your characters after classic horror directors and actors — Browning, Dreyer, Waggner, Lewton, Schreck, Murnau, Chaney, Wiene et al. — unless you're dead sure your work compares favorably to theirs. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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