Final Destination

I’m really glad I saw this this film – for one reason & one reason only: I didn’t like it!

No, I haven’t become a masochist (yet). The thing is, I’ve given a good review for every film I’ve seen this year – the lowest rating I’ve given is 6 for Lake Placid, & that was basically a pretty good film – very funny, great SFX – which was only spoilt by being cliched & predictable. I’ve been worried that I’ve become an ‘uncritical critic’. My disadvantage is that I’m just a bloke with a job who enjoys films & writes about them – I’m not a professional critic. For that reason I only tend to watch films I or my friends think I/we will enjoy, & most of the time we’re right. With ‘Final Destination’ however we got it wrong, so – ladies & gentlemen – I am very pleased to present…

MY FIRST BAD REVIEW!

‘Final Destination’ was disappointing. I expected a clever, intelligent splatterfest along the lines of ‘Scream’ but this is a poor imitation. The initial idea is good – a bunch of students cheating death by plane crash by receiving a premonition, then death catching up with them, but it fails to live up to it’s promise.

This film tries hard to be SOMETHING – but whatever it is it just doesn’t happen. For instance, one of the students is in the bathroom; spooky music starts up; he’s sitting on the loo (ouch); a tap underneath comes loose by itself & water drips out; he gets up from the loo (phew); he sees a shadow in the mirror; he picks up a razor & cuts himself on the neck; the water moves purposefully towards his bare feet; NO, he’s put down the razor & walks away just before the water touches his feet; he plugs in a radio (water, electricity – ouch); again he moves just before the water reaches him; etc., etc. Is this supposed to be funny, knowingly clever, scary, all three? I don’t know, but for me it was just dull.

This sort of voyeuristically sadistic ‘who’s going to get it next & how’ game, although basically in very bad taste, can be very funny: for instance in ‘Scream’. The difference is that ‘Scream’ is clever enough to make it obvious that the characters being bumped off in increasingly messy ways were parodies of themselves & not meant to be taken seriously; here however it seems we’re supposed to believe that they are real. In expecting us to take sadistic delight in guessing who gets it next & in what particularly grisly manner I think makes a movie like this just plain nasty, & childishly so.

At the risk of getting a touch of the Mary Whitehouses (God forbid) I think it is exactly this sort of movie which contributes to making society, (particularly American society & with it the rest of the Western world), numb to pain, suffering & violence in a way that immunises us from the real thing: so that the war in the Gulf, the Kosovan crisis, become just another TV show – & we forget that there are real people out there suffering & dying horribly, or maybe we just don’t care.

Not sure what I mean? Watch that brilliant movie ‘The Truman Show’ – it expresses this far better than I ever could.

OK – end of sermon!

I said we’re supposed to believe the characters are real – ‘supposed’ because they are badly realised, & mostly caricatures: either shallow & nasty, stupid or plain dull. It’s possible we’re meant to think that they are in fact parodies of themselves but if this is the case it’s so badly done it just doesn’t come across at all. In fact I doubt if that much thought has gone into it.

There are a few genuine shocks & funny moments, mostly based around sudden & unexpected deaths, (although in hindsight I think I found it funny because I wanted it to be so), but overall this left me flat. After the 1st sticky death I lost interest, I didn’t give a ‘monkeys’ about the characters, the story was thin & the direction mediocre. The best part of the whole thing was a brief cameo by Tony ‘Candyman’ Todd as a creepy mortician.

This is doubly disappointing for me as director James Wong along with co-writer Glen Morgan were responsible for some of the very best of the early ‘X-Files’ as well as ‘Space: Above & Beyond’ & are capable of much better than this.

My verdict: best avoided – unless you’re a schoolkid, which I suspect is the target audience: ’it’s not big, & it’s not clever’.

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