Final Destination is not exactly a light-hearted movie by any stretch of the imagination, but if you can believe it, the original concept for the story was much more macabre. As fans of the movie series will know, the idea behind them is that an invisible Grim Reaper hunts down those who avoid death and kills them in elaborate and creative ways. According to screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick in a recent Consequence of Sound article about the movie, the unusual death scenes were not always a part of the design, as the teenagers were originally intended to die by their own hands - killing themselves before death could take them out.
"In my original version, since death had messed up the first time, it couldn't just kill the people. It basically exploited their biggest fears and drove them to suicide," Reddick explains. The writer also reveals how many of the characters would have been killed in this early draft of the story. Alex Browning's best friend, Tod (Chad Donella), hung himself in his garage after calling his father to apologize for stealing from him. Meanwhile, Carter (Kerr Smith) purposely jumps in front of a train to commit suicide, haunted by visions of his dead girlfriend vomiting her intestines. Can you imagine if that scene made it into the movie, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary?
Other characters not included in the final product were also written to kill themselves in gruesome ways before the story was altered. This includes a grieving teenage girl whose sister dies in the Flight 180 crash, leaving her feeling burdened with the guilt of leaving her sister behind. "Her sister started haunting her, and so she started dressing like her sister and acting like her sister. When she couldn't be her sister, she set herself on fire," Reddick says of the sisters. These roles were ultimately cut from the script, though Tod was given a brother who dies in the crash as a way of loosely including this concept.
Reddick also divulged a few other details from his original screenplay. This includes the alternate ending, which has Clear (Ali Larter) imagining the plane crashing directly on top of her while standing at the crash site. With the ghosts of her friends haunting her, Clear considers suicide with a gun in her hand, but stops when she realizes she's pregnant, because there was "an innocent life" inside her. Still, that didn't mean Clear would ultimately survive. "The original ending was Clear in the delivery room having the baby. You think it's all good, but all the lights go out," Reddick explains. "A dark figure comes into the delivery room, and you realize that now the baby's been born, she's a goner. Alex is the only one left."
So, what happened with the original story? Apparently, the studio heads weren't too keen on seeing a bunch of teens committing suicide, insisting the movie use an invisible grim reaper as the antagonist. Going with the "unseen force" turned out to be the right call, as we can all see now with our 20/20 hindsight. Though the deaths in the Final Destination series are most often very gory and rather gruesome, there's a certain element of dark humor that often accompanies them as well, making the movies "fun" to watch in some ways. Watching horrified teenagers offing themselves one after the other doesn't sound quite as amusing and may have been a bit too bleak for mainstream audiences.
As it is now, the Final Destination series is still going strong, as work has begun on the sixth installment of the franchise. This time, word is that the story will follow first responders, like firemen, police officers, and EMTs. Let's just hope franchise star Tony Todd is able to return as well. You can read more about what went on behind the scenes of Final Destination at Consequence of Sound.