Have you ever said, “I don’t want to get Final Destination’ed” or is that just me? Final Destination (2000) is one horror/thriller that truly sunk its claws into my psyche and hasn’t let go. To this day, I can’t see flights to Paris in the airport, take a glass of vodka by electrical cords, or drive behind trucks on the highway without having a slight chill run down my spine thinking of the many unfortunate demises met by the characters of this fan-favorite film. Directed by James Wong & written by Jeffrey Reddick, Glenn Morgan & James Wong, Final Destination kicked off a successful franchise and brought Death to Life in ways no one could imagine.
I’m sure many of us found our thoughts drifting to moral questions of fate, destiny, and death – I would say more so due to recent current events. As someone with anxiety, Final Destination is in many ways an accurate depiction of the worst-case scenarios that pass through my brain on a daily basis. One scene that stands out, in particular, is in the first few minutes of the film when Alex (played excellently by Devon Sawa) watches the ticking changes of the flight departure/arrivals board upon arriving at the airport. Somehow this routine occurrence seems utterly menacing. Each “cancelled” and “delayed” notice is foreboding, and Alex is barely able to finish his conversation with the ticket agent because he’s so distracted by the feeling that something is going terribly wrong despite any real evidence.
“Final Destination kicked off a successful franchise and brought Death to Life in ways no one could imagine.”
This is the one thing Final Destination does best – turning everyday situations into ominous foreshadowing in a way that maybe, just maybe, could only be in your head… unless it’s not. The tension of the movie (and it’s stellar opening sequence) lies in the unknown, and just when you think it was all in your head, they pull the trigger and prove you right. Bludworth (played by Tony Todd, best known as Candyman) has a fantastic line that really sums the movie’s anxious queries up. “What you have to realize,” he tells us, “is that we’re just a mouse that a cat has by the tail, every single move we make from the mundane to the monumental, the red light that we stop at or run, the people we have sex with or want with us, the airplanes that we ride or walk out of, it’s all part of death’s sadistic design. Leading to the grave.”
Rewatching Final Destination was a cathartic experience. Not just feeling like anxiety is represented & addressed, but also because everyone’s reactions to fear & paranoia feel very timely. Then of course there is the representation of grief after a mass casualty (an unfortunately all too common occurrence with mass shootings in the USA these days). The subsequent killings coincide with an interesting intersection between survivor’s guilt & PTSD. Many are hoping, praying, or otherwise begging for answers in a world that gets more confusing every day. Final Destination gives us a reason and an explanation for senseless death, one that can be fought and possibly conquered in the rules of the film.
Alex also struggles with similar questions. At what point does he try and warn everyone of his intuition? Why was he chosen to bear this cross, and will his intuition ever lead him astray and actually cause harm to others? I think these fascinating human questions are also what help the film stand up so well 20 years after its debut. They are concepts that continue to elude us and anything that helps us play out possible scenarios helps to break into that psychology.
Of course, how could a film that so closely deals with the strange and unusual, with death and uncertainty ever go out of fashion? Especially with worldwide feelings of uncertainty as of late, Final Destination ultimately reminds us how precious life is, how truly unpredictable it can be and that sometimes all the worrying in the world can’t change a thing. But that’s okay. At the end of the day, despite everything we may try, no one can control their fate – but sometimes it’s worth it to try, because you might end up saving yourself.
“Final Destination ultimately reminds us how precious life is, how truly unpredictable it can be and that sometimes all the worrying in the world can’t change a thing.”
If you’d like to revisit Final Destination, it’s now streaming on Netflix – in case you, uh, might have some free time the next few weeks. And be sure to let us know what you think of Final Destination over on Twitter, Reddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club! We’ll be seeing you soon…