I have a very bizarre history with this film series. I didn’t see the first film, despite my high-school classmate Seann William Scott’s appearance in the film, I saw the second one, didn’t see the third one and here we are for number quarto. While the series doesn’t seem to change a whole lot – a bunch of kids escape death, a bunch of kids run from death, a bunch of kids die – they put a different spin on the series here, in all three dimensions, and it’s just a ton of summer-ending fun from start to finish.
The series has become known for its spectacular opening death sequences (I hear the roller-coaster bit in the third film was rather sick), but this one has to be the granddaddy of them all. The film starts out at a race track where four friends are enjoying some high-octane fun. There’s Nick (Bobby Campo), his lovely girlfriend Lori (Shantel VanSanten), Nick’s womanizing buddy Hunt (Nick Zano) and Lori’s friend Janet (Haley Webb), who they’re trying to set Nick up with, presumably to have him “settle down.” It starts out a bit slow with these random interactions with others in the stands, like a MILF (Krista Allen) who hilariously uses tampons as makeshift earplugs for her kids, a mechanic named Charlie (Andrew Fiscella) and, just as you think it’s starts to drag… bam! A screwdriver left in the back of one of the race cars wasn’t retrieved before the car left pit row and, once that screwdriver hits the track, chaos erupts. Cars and car parts fly into the stands and, of course, it doesn’t help that the track’s structure starts to collapse and many more die. Somehow we’re still fooled when it cuts back to Nick, who just saw the scene unfold in his head, and, after his clairvoyance of predicting what other people will say, he convinces his friends to leave, saving a few others as well, including the track’s security guard, George (Mykletti Williamson). In case you haven’t seen these films before, since they escaped death, death feels he’s been robbed and sets out to claim his souls that he should’ve had.
It’s odd that the only film I’ve seen in this series is Final Destination 2, because this film was a reunion for FD2 writer Eric Bress and director David R. Ellis, who both write and direct this film. It’s been awhile since I saw FD2 in theaters all those years ago, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t have nearly the sense of humor about this whole franchise as a whole than this one does. The film might be one of the funniest films ever where hardly any of the laughs come from anything that was actually spoken. No, the laughs come from these brilliant Mouse Trap-like situations, which are so immensely improbable they become hilarious. While Bress’ dialogue might not be the richest I’ve ever heard, his script is quite brilliant in stringing together these outrageous situations, some that even throw a few red herrings in there to throw you off how these characters will actually die. The thing too is that all this stuff actually COULD happen, but these are all million-to-one shots here, with the kind of precision needed for the kills and for the outrageous turn of events that have to unfold for a single kill. It’s great too because Bress’s script and Ellis’ direction really has you on edge the whole time, waiting to see how the next kill will unfold, and he does throw plenty of hilarious surprises at you throughout the film. To be perfectly honest, I was laughing almost the entire time. Maybe I just have a sick sense of humor… but it seems that Bress and Ellis do too. Oh, and wait until you see Nick Zano’s kill…. wow.
The acting here isn’t anything to write home about, really, but that probably has to do, somewhat, with these paper-thin characters. Bobby Campo’s Nick is your typical nice-guy boyfriend, Shantel VanSanten is your typical sweetheart girlfriend, who supports Nick through these crazy visions he’s having, Janet is the typical girlfriend’s single friend, but I did like Nick Zano as the d-bag Hunt, because he does the d-bag oh so well. The character isn’t really anything new, but Zano has a few great moments here. Mykeltti Williamson is solid as always as the security guard George, a recovering alcoholic (ironically he probably has the most developed character in the film), but Justin Welborn steals a few scenes towards the beginning of the film as a racist dude that was saved at the race track, but whose wife died. No, that isn’t what’s funny about him, but he has a few nice moments as well.
Director David R. Ellis is no stranger to bizarre humor, as he displayed with his cult-ish film Snakes on a Plane, and you can see that same sort of humor employed here. Like he showed us in Planes, Ellis might be one of the only directors around that can convey humor through his direction and post-production work alone, in scenes that don’t have any actors in them, and he does so here with his elaborately hilarious set-ups to these wonderful kills. Ellis’s work is only enhanced with the incredible score by Brian Tyler (also known as BT), with a kick-ass metal ensemble, especially in the opening credit scene, which shows some traumatic things happening to the human body through an X-ray. His score really set the balls-to-the-wall tone of the film and Ellis followed with his unique direction.
The Final Destination is one hell of a way to end your summer at the movie theater. It has some incredible action, big crazy set pieces and the coolest, craziest and, most importantly, funniest kills of the entire franchise.