Final Destination exploded on the scene – literally, via an airplane explosion – on March 17, 2000, making it one of the first successful new franchises of the 21st century. Within the next eleven years, four sequels followed, each one having their own slice of death following a manner of unlucky individuals.
I am here, today, to rank all of the Final Destination films. But how does one go about deciding the quality of such a franchise? Is it the infamous deaths that occur within the films? Should it be based on the numerous characters that litter the franchise?
I couldn’t possibly treat the ranking as Death treated each character within its plan because, let’s be honest, Death’s plan for each sequel changed a bit; therefore throwing any expectations out of the window. Actually, let’s backtrack. I will treat this ranking exactly like Death treated its victims. There will be no first film is the best and last film is the worst. There will be my own ranking as Death chose its own ranking of characters to dispose.
5. The Final Destination (2009)
As a fan of the entire franchise, it does hurt me to place any of the films at the back of the ranking, but The Final Destination deserves to be here. While it is the first in the franchise to be in 3D – within a franchise that practically screamed “Make me in 3D!” from the beginning – it is the one film within that lacks what the other four films provided: interesting characters, a worthy chain of events, and what should have been a killer and memorable opening premonition. While the deaths of the characters via Death are all bloody and macabre, the level of anxiety that exists in the other films is very low on the pole of the scythe that Death may or may not have held in its skeletal hands.
4. Final Destination (2000)
Don’t you dare “gasp!” at me for including the initial entry in the franchise so low in the ranking. This does not mean that the film isn’t a wonder to behold. In fact, if the distance between The Final Destination and Final Destination’s ranking was an actuality, it would stretch from the east coast of the US to … Paris, France.
Final Destination is a classic. It set up rules that would be broken, and would be stretched maniacally in the subsequent sequels. It gave us the infamous bus splatter scene that made 90% of you jump out of your skin when you first watched it. It’s just that I believe that the sequels that followed built upon what this film established, and did what successful sequels should do, and that is give us more than what we were given, here.
3. Final Destination 3 (2006)
Death’s rules begin to take a change within Final Destination 3, and we are all the better for it. The film’s lead, portrayed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is one of the most likable of the franchise. The relationships between all of the characters on Death’s list flow so well from person to person that when each one meets their grisly demise, there is a response that rises from within.
The opening premonition does not best the previous sequel’s, but it plays on a fear that many a people have had while the restraints of a roller coaster settle in, and the coaster sets off on its journey. Plus, Final Destination 3 gave us one of the more memorable death scenes of the franchise. You know what I’m talking about, right? When Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Rollercoaster of Love plays over the tanning bed death of Ashley (Chelan Simmons) and Ashlyn (Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe).
2. Final Destination 2 (2003)
I would be lying if I said that the reason that Final Destination 2 ranks so high is not because of its opening premonition. Because it is. That interstate monstrosity that was presented to us is one of the most tense and unpredictable automobile catastrophes to hit the screen. It also made a whole generation and those to follow terrified to get behind a truck carrying logs. While the film annihilated one of the characters from the initial film with not much as a whisper, the antics that Death befell on the characters in the film upped the ante of the original tenfold. Death is relentless in Final Destination 2, and it would not be topped in any of the entries that followed.
1. Final Destination 5 (2011)
The highlight of every Final Destination film has always been the opening and the closing of the film. While the opening in Final Destination 5 is second to that of Final Destination 2, it is the finale that locked the film in the top spot of the ranking. I can remember sitting in the theater and enjoying the entirety of the film from the opening to the absolutely anxiety inducing segment of the gymnast character (which I would consider to be the BEST death scene in the entire franchise), but being totally blown away by the finale of the film that brought the entire franchise full circle.
I was blessed that this wasn’t ruined for me before I saw the film. Given that it’s an almost nine-year-old film, the majority of people know what happens in the final moments, but for the sake of those who have not seen it, I will not spoil it. Just know that the moments that occur before combined with the chills that I experienced within the final moments secures Final Destination 5 as the best Final Destination film of them all.
While I love how the 5th entry in the franchise brought the entire franchise full circle, it’s a wonder that it’s been 9 years, and there hasn’t been another Final Destination film to add to this ranking. That may change as it has been announced that New Line is looking to reboot the franchise. Although it’s been over a year since that news was release when The Hollywood Reporter announced that Patrick Melton (Saw IV–VI, Piranha 3DD) and Marcus Dunstan (The Collector, The Collection) would be writing the new film. There’s been no further news on the project, but nevertheless, the prospect that a new Final Destination film is on the horizon is exciting.
The franchise is a mainstay in the history of horror franchises, and they all deserve that honor. But what about you? What entry in the Final Destination franchise is your favorite? Which Death experience elevates a certain entry? Let us know over on our Twitter, reddit, Instagram, or on The Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook! And watch out for those log trucks on the interstate.