Projections - Movie Reviews

Final Destination Final Destination

Starring in the ill-fated horror comedy Idle Hands, which happened to be released around the time of the Columbine tragedy in Colorado, Devon Sawa is in another film that is a hard sell with its story line of "death is coming" evolving from the premonition of an airline tragedy.  And, in Final Destination high school kids meet a terrible fate on a flight from New York headed for Paris on a French class field trip.  The course that this teen psychological thriller takes is often unsettling as Sawa's Alex Browning is clued in by the powers of the nether world which uses mother nature and modern technology to stage more killings for those few, including Alex, "who have cheated death."

James Wong's debut feature film has plenty of spectacles which will leave many cringing a bit or hanging on to a companion, and his X-Files background gives Final Destination a "creepy and off-putting" feeling that draws from strange happenings in one's life.  The music of the late John Denver plays an important part in Wong's ominous foreboding that unfortunately makes most of the characters not so keen, other than the telekinetic Alex.

Instead of aping the trends of such teen fare as Idle Hands and Disturbing Behavior, Wong strives to make the macabre leap from the screen with spontaneity, and in succeeding, he gets the most of the anticipation of what will inevitably come and how gruesome the result may be.

Still, from its Omen or Carrie models, Final Destination has a path that resembles a picture like I Know What You Did Last Summer.  But, here, within Wong's non-discreet, sometimes in-your-face handling of destiny, first-hand of manipulating the designs of death, from Alex's first-hand claustrophobic prescient dream, turns into a real nightmare.

From Jeffrey Raddick's story, Wong and Glen Morgan's screenplay unfolds as a disaster horror type of thriller that reaches into the psyche of Alex, and especially one of the other students who avoided the mid-air explosion, clearly endowed with scholarliness and intuition by the appealing Ali Larter.  She suffered a tragedy early in life with her father's murder, and bonds with Alex in an ESP sort of way from his antics which led to a melee on the flight before its departure from Kennedy Airport.

Also, part of the off center tension of Wong's depiction of Alex's obsession with trying to alter destiny, is Kerr Smith's irate classmate who fights with Alex before and after the disaster, upsetting his girlfriend Terry, filled with pain and anxiety by Amanda Detmer.  Valerie Lewton, the understanding teacher who remained with the seven students, is strongly affected by this fatal blow, as Kristen Cloke shows how guilt translates into immediate mental instability.  Similar to his humorous effect in American Pie, Seann William Scott gives his Billy an outspoken goofy quality that looks like he's in a Twilight Zone episode.  Alex's best friend, Tod, suffers an early exit stemming from a bathroom leak, and Alex and Cloke are given chills by the undertaker cameo of Tony Todd, in his Candyman discussion of the sadist ways of death.

In its twisted, fading road into an earnest, but unconvincing climax, the taut, sometimes sudden morbid acts are easily felt, before one too many jolts.

 
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Jim
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Final Destination
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