Considering how many people manage to tumble through the cracks of Death’s design, it’s a small wonder that Death itself hasn’t taken time off for stress because of the amount of overtime it has to put in to cull a group of random teens who’s blindly avoided the moment when their time is supposed to be up. In fact, it may explain why the premature life expelling in this third Final Destination movie has ramped up a bit from the playful gore of the first two movies – maybe the overworked force that determines how and when we pop our clogs is sick of these melodramatic teens screwing up it’s work and has decided to put them the fuck down in the nastiest ways it possibly can – like a shelf stacker who no longer cares if he damages the product he’s haphazardly dumping on the shelves…
A typical bunch of graduating teens are enjoying an evening at a fairground when control freak Wendy Christensen has a devastating vision that she, her boyfriend and group of people from he school are killed in a suprisingly drawn out accident involving the world’s most malfunctioning rollercoaster. Getting herself and others thrown off the ride after her highly understandable freak out, Wendy’s boyfriend and bestie are unable to disembark and are promptly obliterated when the horrific premonition comes true.
However, weeks after burying the dead, bizarre and brutal accidents start befalling the survivors of the rollercoaster crash in the order they would have originally died, starting with two bubble headed bimbos going up in flames like selfie taking kindling in a freak tanning bed accident (man, that was a strange sentence to write…).
After checking it out online, Kevin – a fellow survivor and former idiot boyfriend to her dead friend – confirms Wendy’s fears that this might not be over and together they realise that Death itself has put a hit out on them and anyone else who stepped off that fateful fairground ride. However, they have a chance to beat this thanks to a bunch of photos Wendy was snapping for the yearbook that night that cryptically show how the person is about to die which simultaneously proves that not only is their theory true, but that Death must be quite a fan of The Omen if he’s going around, signing his work like this.
Desperately trying to warn the other survivors with mixed success – a crushed head is definately one for the loss column, right? – Wendy and Kevin race to save their peers but who was the mystery person sitting in the seat that Wendy hasn’t accounted for yet and what shifty Plan B does panicked goth Ian have in store to guarantee he’s left off of Death’s rapidly shortening to do list?
After the frenetic, scrappily scripted fun of the second outing in a franchise that’s a jackpot for the paranoid, returning to the director’s chair is James Wong, ex-X Files helmer and director of the orginal with Glen Morgan also returning for co-scripting duties, but those of you hoping for the slower, more meditative dread of the first film may be somewhat disappointed. That’s right, taking the lead of the sequel’s more speedy tone, this third trip to Final Destination may have the velocity of a plummeting rollercoaster, but it also has the longevity of one too.
So let’s start with the positive first and first off the blocks is the requisite disaster that kicks all this shit off in the first place and while a careening death-coaster may not be as instantly relatable as roasting in a plane crash or getting smushed all over the highway, the series still manages to tap into the primal fear of what if, the moment some punk on minimum wage straps you into a contraption designed by man to flip off gravity for giggles. It ticks off all worse case scenarios rather nicely with restraints coming loose, people getting mashed up by the frame work and the whole damn thing grinding to a half while only halfway through a loop the loop and it genuinely give you pause when deciding if you’re gonna treat yourself to a theme park visit anytime soon, but to be honest, you’ll be hard pressed to find any of the opening Final Destination tragedies that don’t cut the mustard.
However, after this opening bout of carnage we quickly settle into a very business as usually vibe as we now have to watch this new group of teen work out exactly what we already new two movies ago and here’s where the problems begin. Where slasher movies tend to feature the same old thing of people wandering through areas they really shouldn’t, they are still relatively simple things; a Final Destination movie on the other hand requires a shit-ton of exposition with all the various rules having to be laid out and then explained over and over again to the other members of the cast – simply put, it gets exhausting hearing them explain the same old stuff ad nauseam. A plus point is that they’ve removed the old resuscitate them to save them loophole because let’s be honest, it’s a little tough to do chest compressions on a guy who’s brain has been diced into guacamole by the fan of a car engine.
As the film continues to tread dutifully on the set path of the franchise you can’t help but realise that pretty much everyone in the cast isn’t actually that likable; take the truly odious character of Joey Cheeks for example who seems only one rohypnol tablet away from becoming an out and out sex offender and is mercifully taken out years before the #metoo movement would have obliterated his ass – or hyper pumped, obnoxious jock, Lewis who is constantly screaming how he’s the best at everything tight up to the point where he’s spectacularly taken out by a gruesome headshot that must have had Death running around looking for a high five.
This isn’t a terminal problem (unlikeable characters in a horror film? Say it ain’t so!) but what doesn’t help is that our two leads are horribly self obsessed and not even the skills of a young Mary Elizabeth Winstead can’t stop her character fading into the background even when she’s standing in the centre of the screen…
So what’s left to save the day are, predictably, the deaths, although there’s a noticable uprise in nastiness of the set pieces that belay the PG13 origins of the series so far. It’s also worth noting that a couple of the more drawn out deaths are handed to the females in the cast with a misadventure by nail gun has it’s victim writhing miserably before expiring and the surprisingly sleazy tanning bed fire is overlong and gratuitous in it’s victim’s suffering – plus they burn to death with by Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ version of Love Rollercoaster blaring on the radio, and nobody needs that.
Inheriting part 2’s weaknesses as well as it’s pace, Final Destination 3 still brings the necessary spills, chills and kills needed to sate the fan base, but you already feel the concept’s beginning to be done to death…