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FINAL DESTINATION

SYNOPSIS:
All-round American high-schooler Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) is about to jet off with his French class on a field trip to Paris. But aboard the plane, Alex experiences a chilling premonition. He sees the plane exploding just after take-off. Scared witless, Alex gets himself, his teacher Miss Lewton (Kristen Cloke), his friends Billy (Seann William Scott) and Tod (Chad E Donella), weird-girl Clear (Ali Larter), hard-headed jock Carter (Kerr Smith), and his trophy girlfriend Terry (Amanda Detmer), thrown off the plane just before it - wouldn’t you know - does take off and explode! Alex soon learns that death has a plan for everyone, that his premonition disrupted the plan, and that death is coming to finish the job. One by one, Alex foresees the horrible imminent deaths of those he saved from the explosion, as he tries to stay one step ahead of the grim reaper, save his friends, cheat fate, and stay alive.

"This unassuming but inventive schlock horror-comedy is in the best twisted tradition of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and The X-Files. Not surprising, as some of the best X-Files and Millennium episodes were written by Final Destination director James Wong and screenwriter Glen Morgan. Spreading their wings to feature length, the results are fun, edgy and deliciously unpredictable. This is no Scream-teen horror. There’s no cloaked guy with a 12-inch blade. Death is amorphous, strikes in the unexpected places, and has a sick sense of humour. As the mixed bag of John Hughes-ian pre-pubescents are introduced, and Alex’s premonition is swiftly and skilfully played out, we know we’re in for something different. The surviving group are one by one sliced, diced, hacked, minced, burned, and beheaded in the most interesting and amusing ways. Wong and Morgan know their horror, as each grisly demise is more inventive, shocking, and outrageous than the last. Blob-like toilet water causes a bathroom slip to result in a bathtub hanging. Vodka spilt on a computer causes its screen to shatter into another’s neck. A train line incident will have you gasping and in stitches at the same time. A hilarious Evil Dead-like cabin scene has our hero nailing down and taping-up every object that may lead to his "accidental" demise. And what’s a horror-comedy without a close encounter with the front of a bus? More amusing is that Alex discovers death is coming for them - in the seating-plan order it should have got them on the plane! I made my own discovery. Devon Sawa was the lead in Idle Hands. Seann William Scott was in Disturbing Behaviour. Chad E. Donella was in American Pie. Ali Larter was in Varsity Blues and House on Haunted Hill. Kerr Smith is Jack, the gay guy from Dawson’s Creek. Horror and comedy appear to be the preferred vehicle to launch a Hollywood career. Spare a thought for the uncredited progenitor of this wicked project, Jeffrey Reddick. At age 14 he saw A Nightmare on Elm Street and immediately sent a 10-page sequel to New Line. It was rejected, but Reddick soon had a job as a floater at New Line. Ten years later he sold the outline for Final Destination. I guess fate had a plan for him too."
Shannon J. Harvey

"Though far from perfect, Final Destination is a welcome addition to the teen horror genre. In a marked departure from the Halloween, Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream formulas, director James Wong's spooky little chiller doesn't rely on the services of a knife-wielding psycho in a scary mask to decimate its cast. Here, with the middle-man effectively eliminated, it is death itself that performs the unsavory deeds, and the sense of finality it brings to the resulting carnage is unmistakable. The key to the film's ability to sustain audience interest over ninety minutes hinges not only on the shock value of each victim's grisly demise (a decapitation scene is particularly nifty) but also the intriguing questions the central premise raises: Is our destiny preordained? And, if we were privy to the details surrounding our or our friends' eventual death, could we forestall it, or, better still, even prevent it? In short, can death be cheated? When films like The Seventh Seal or the recent Meet Joe Black grappled with this weighty question, the answer was always an emphatic "no". In Final Destination, writers Glen Morgan and Jeffrey Reddick wisely have chosen to hedge their bets by insuring their ambiguous "maybe" with chancy red herrings and a clever finale that has sequel written all over it. With the gasps easily covering the gaps, and a sustained air of menace throughout, this is the sort of film horror maestro Wes Craven used to make in the days when "the hills had eyes" and he was still living in "the last house on the left". Infinitely more involving than the lamentable Scream 3."
Leo Cameron

"The eternal question of destiny (why do some die while others live? Is it fate or mere coincidence?) is a weighty subject for filmmakers. Although it’s a bit of a stretch to compare, Final Destination does share philosophical concerns taken up in some much more serious cinema - Peter Weir’s Fearless for instance. And while this film descends into immensely silly stuff towards the end, it does tackle the issue in an interesting and teen-friendly way. It’s a kind of Existential Thought 101 with a liberal dose of spooky goings-on thrown in. Unlike some other recent teen horror films, there’s no knife-wielding maniac or extraterrestrial monster involved. The herald of doom is nothing more threatening than a slight breeze. The opening scenes are disturbing for several reasons - not the least of which is the film’s unnerving appropriation of the TWA Flight 800 tragedy - but spectacularly effective. However, the ending is bizarrely out of sync with the rest of the film; and I felt it was a cop-out. Devon Sawa is believable although a little creepy as Alex, while Ali Larter as Clear, a kindred soul with problems of her own, is an excellent support. Most of the other characters are merely grist for the mill, as it were. Final Destination certainly creates genuine unease at times, and the script works hard at being at least superficially credible. In the end however, it falls into the familiar formula of teen horror. If you’ll excuse a somewhat pointed metaphor, it starts to fly but then crashes and burns."
David Edwards



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

FINAL DESTINATION (MA) 15+
(US)

CAST: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Tony Todd, Kristen Cloke, Sean William Scott, Chad E. Donella, Amanda Detmer, Daniel Roebuck, Roger Guenver Smith

PRODUCERS: Glen Morgan, Warren Zide, Craig Perry

DIRECTOR: James Wong

SCRIPT: James Wong, Glen Morgan, Jeffrey Reddick

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert McLachlan

EDITOR: James Coblentz

MUSIC: Shirley Walker

PRODUCTION DESIGN: John Willet

RUNNING TIME: 97 min

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 13, 2000







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