Recently, I decided to dive into a horror saga I neglected over the years. The Final Destination films, spanning from 2000 to 2011, each tell a story of a group of people who escape a horrific, multi-casualty accident because one of them sees a premonition of minutes before. In the original, it’s a plane exploding just after take-off, another is a huge interstate pileup. They get more epic down the line. And of course I remember the commercials and previews and as a teen and young adult. Sadly, I wrote them off. Until now. I was captivated and loved the first film so much I couldn’t wait to dive into the sequels. To put it bluntly, The Final Destination movies are a Rube Goldberg machine of death. I can’t look away and I love it.
#1. Final Destination (2000): I was surprised how much I genuinely enjoyed the first Final Destination film. The element of suspense is used well and the initial plane crash scene is well done and believable. I love that this really establishes the whole “death has a design.” theme for the series. You feel genuine suspense and terror as death creeps closer to each survivor. Maybe it’s the greasy faces, baggy clothes, gravity defying bangs, but I really enjoyed seeing a horror movie with teenage characters that actually looked like the teenagers I grew up with. Favorite death: beheaded by scrap metal.
#2. Final Destination 2 (2003): This film features the infamous log-truck accident, which is basically what I imagine every time I have to merge onto I-465. Tony Todd (aka, candy man) is back with a great cameo. And I enjoy the cop trying to help the protagonist and the wild array of freak accident deaths. Favorite death: surprise airbag deployment.
#3. Final Destination 3 (2006): The third movie goes off the rails in every way possible. Literally. A roller coaster accident sets the events in motion. But what makes this movie stand out from the others is that pictures hold the clues to each death. There are lots of crazy, high speed, intense, death scenes. Sometimes it’s a bit over the top. And honestly, this movie is kinda bad, but so bad that it’s good. Still a very fun horror movie. Favorite death: brain sliced apart by a car engine.
#4. The Final Destination (2009): Ok, I’ll admit, this one is the worst of the bunch, but it’s still enjoyable. I mean, a Nascar race disaster setting everything off? And later one guy gets his guts sucked out of his butthole and spewed all over the public pool? It’s so bad, it’s laughable. And the obvious 3D gags are hilarious. Favorite death: getting diced on the fence.
#5. Final Destination 5 (2011): As bad as #4 was, I think the creators here for Final Destination 5 knew to pull back on the laughable effects. Here, a bridge collapse sets everything in motion and instead of focusing on teens, it’s a group of young adults. Maybe this is to bring the original 2000 audience back? It works, and one of the big hooks now is that one of the survivors tries to murder his way out. Fun! And honestly, the big twist at the end, pulling the whole series together, makes watching all the movies totally worth it. Favorite death: acupuncture nightmare.
What really sets the Final Destination series apart from other horror franchise is that instead of relying on a recurring character/monster, it’s a reoccurring chain of horrific freak accidents. And while far fetched or unlikely, we see how these horrifying moments can happen in real life. No two deaths are the same. The blood and gore are not spared. Most adults don’t really worry about Jason or Freddy coming to get them, but now I do genuinely fear log trucks. And nail guns. And rocks being slung by a lawnmower. And escalators. And airbags. And and and….