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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Final Destination 3

October 30, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Final Destination 3

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #529: Final Destination 3

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been a fan of riding or even looking at roller coasters, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and twenty-nine, I take a look at the second sequel in the Final Destination franchise, Final Destination 3, which hit movie screens in early February 2006.

Final Destination 3

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Final Destination 3, directed by James Wong (he also directed the first Final Destination), is one of the least engaging horror movie sequels I think I’ve ever seen. Featuring a lame cast and a rather uninvolving story, it’s a horror movie that does have some decent, violent set pieces, but that’s about all there is to recommend it. Final Destination 3 just doesn’t have the same life or energy as the first two movies.

The movie stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Wendy Christensen, a smart and capable high school student who, while attending a senior’s night at the local amusement park with her fellow classmates, has a vivid and violent premonition of her death on the roller coaster (there’s some sort of mechanical issue that causes the roller coaster to essentially derail itself, flinging her fellow classmates to the ground to their deaths alongside her). This premonition causes Wendy to flip out and she is forcibly removed from the ride, along with several other people, including her future love interest Kevin Fischer (Ryan Merriman). Wendy’s current love interest, Jason (Jesse Moss), stays on the ride and, as tends to happen in the Final Destination world, the premonition turns out to be a harbinger of the real future, the roller coaster, known as Devil’s Flight, malfunctions, and multiple people die.

Racked with guilt, Wendy starts to investigate the circumstances of the malfunction and what the hell her premonition means. While looking into all of that stuff, she checks out a camera that she had with her that was used to take pictures of her fellow classmates for the yearbook or some bullshit like that. And when she looks at the pictures on the camera she realizes that everyone she sees is a “survivor” of the roller coaster disaster. And, of course, by survivor, that means the people who should have been on the roller coaster but were not because of Wendy’s premonition. How the hell did that happen?

So Wendy does some more research and, via the internets, comes across the stories from the first two movies and figures out that because death’s “original plan” was altered death will start killing people to get the overall death plan back on track. It’s at this point that Kevin gets involved, and both Wendy and Kevin try to figure out how people are going to die and in what order. Wendy believes that there are clues in the pictures, and if she can decipher what those clues are she can save whoever is next to die. Of course, Wendy will also have to find a way to convince the survivors that death is now coming for them. Kevin is fully onboard with this plan but he has no idea how to get people to believe in this “death is coming for them” scheme. Because, really, why would anyone believe any of this? It’s insane.

So, yes, Final Destination 3 is basically a riff on the first movie with the same sort of set up, except the high school teens in Final Destination 3 are even more annoying than the entire cast of the first movie combined. I swear to God, as soon as they started talking (and by “they” I mean any of the kids. Any of them) I couldn’t wait for them to start dying. I didn’t need to know anything about them. I wasn’t going to root for any of them. I just couldn’t wait for them to start dying. That’s harsh, I know, but it’s what happened.

But how were they going to die? And what various forms would death take to come get them? As much as I wanted to see everyone die, I couldn’t really get behind death because death didn’t have the same overwhelming presence as it did in the first two movies. Even though you couldn’t see death in Grim Reaper form, you always knew that death was some sort of presence that the characters would have to deal with in the first two movies. Whatever death happens to be in Final Destination 3, it really isn’t the same thing as in the first two movies. Death is a different entity here, and it just isn’t as scary or intimidating as in the first two movies.

I thought that the “the people in the pictures are the ones that are going to die” thing was a nice wrinkle in the usual Final Destination set-up, at least at the beginning. How often do you see a haunted camera in a horror movie (it happens but not as often as it should)? And I also thought that Wendy and Kevin trying to figure out what the correct order of the pictures should be would provide some added tension throughout the movie. But the haunted camera and the image order didn’t really do anything for the movie. It was just something that Wendy and Kevin had to deal with as the story moved forward. It didn’t add any tension. It was just lame.

As for the movie’s death set pieces, the opening roller coaster section is decent enough (it could have been more visceral but it works). And the sun tanning booth deaths are okay, even though they come off as bullshit (this might be a movie and all, but I don’t think anyone would ever “cook” in one of those tanning booths, even with the series of parts failures and “electricity issues” that Ashley and Ashlyn (Chelan Simmons and Crystal Lowe) experience while being trapped inside the booths. And how can a horror movie franchise that excels at killing people in elaborate and gory ways make a head smashing scene seem tame and, well, lame (I’m sorry for repeating myself with that word but it’s the best way to describe what happens. It’s all just so goddamn lame)? I don’t get it, but Final Destination 3 did it.

I will commend the movie, though, for the flying engine/engine fan/skull slicing sequence. The lead up to the big moment is ridiculous, but the actual moment is cool as hell. Why couldn’t all of the death sequences be as nasty and awe inspiring? Who the hell ever thought we’d see someone get the back of their skull sliced off via a car engine fan?

As I said, when it comes to the cast, Final Destination 3 is seriously lacking in the screen presence and charisma department. Some of the characters do stand out, but just because people notice you doesn’t necessarily make you interesting. Star Mary Elizabeth Winstead tries very hard as Wendy but she’s just boring, and her total lack of chemistry with both Ryan Merriman as Kevin and Jesse Moss as Jason, her love interests in the movie, is distressing. And Kris Lemche’s Ian McKinley is just awful. He’s an annoying know-it-all and, man, you can’t wait until he dies (because you know he’s going to die).

Sam Easton’s Frankie Cheeks is mildly amusing, as he’s a total douchebag, but the more he hangs around the more terrible he becomes. And what’s the deal with Texas Battle’s Lewis? Why is he so aggressive? Why doesn’t he have a personality? At least Chelan Simmons and Crystal Lowe are allowed to have some personality before they die as Ashley and Ashlyn.

And where the hell is Tony Todd? Yes, we hear Tony Todd’s voice twice, as the voice of the roller coaster and on the subway train, but where the hell is Bludworth? Shouldn’t he have had at least a moment like in the other two movies?

Now, the DVD (or one of the movie’s DVD releases) has some sort of “Choose Their Fate” special feature that allows the viewer to “alter” aspects of the movie’s story. I didn’t have time to do that, but from what I’ve read online, the special feature, while innovative and kind of cool, doesn’t really alter the story significantly. Some of the death scenes are apparently slightly different, but, in an overall sense, the movie plays out the same as the theatrical release version. I may do this at one point in the future, if I ever decide to give Final Destination 3 another chance. It may be a while.

Man, Final Destination 3 was really disappointing. It’s not as engaging as the previous two entries in the franchise. It’s missing something in the energy department. I will, eventually, see the other two movies in the franchise, though. I’m not going to allow one lame movie in a five movie franchise to keep me from watching all of them. That wouldn’t be very cool of me, would it?

See Final Destination 3 only if you feel the need to, or if you’re in the middle of one of those “I need to watch all of the movies in a franchise” things. In that case, Final Destination 3 is a must watch.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 29

Explosions: A few.

Nudity?: Yes. It’s not bad.

Doobage: Nice ominous opening titles sequence, roller coaster hooey, very uncool and totally unauthorized up skirt pictures, a dancing weirdo, high school bullshit, double middle fingers, a creepy older young guy, a major equipment malfunction, total roller coaster destruction, loop de loop hooey, a guy gets cut in half, a fist fight, depression, deliberate book disposal, people talking in the rain, attempted tanning, breasts, inappropriate funeral https://flic.kr/p/2hC2Bgh, face slapping, a brief windstorm, distracted driving, lift gate hooey, a flying engine, skull slicing via engine fan, serious weight lifting, head smashing, attempted humor about potential impending death, a guy using a nail gun to kill pigeons, runaway forklift, lumber attack, nail gun nails through the back of the head, of screen police interrogation, a wolf, Revolutionary War bullshit, a sparkler fight between two dipshits, fireworks hooey, a runaway horse, body dragging, flag pole impalement, body crushing, a rat eating a candy bar, a subway derailment, flying wheel hooey, full body shredding, and a poor ending.

Kim Richards?: Almost.

Gratuitous: Silver metal balls that look very CGI, amusement park rides I would never go on, dual thongs, a laughing devil statue with the voice of Tony Todd, coin flipping, “no loose objects,” camera bullshit, a roller coaster disaster, a student shrine, high school yearbook signing, internets research about the events of the first two movies, a Ramones bobble head, a guy using a squeeze bottle of lotion to prop open a door, a pile of shitty CDs, “Rollercoaster of Love,” a picture of the World Trade Center, fast food, “Fuck the Bruins!,” walkie talkie hooey, reshops, an exploding bag of bird seed, Newton’s Third Law of Motion, fireworks prep, a dying middle finger, Tony Todd’s voice on the subway, and a poor ending.

Best lines: “I’m sorry, Kevin can get so out of control,” “Okay, so I’m a total whore,” “That was so awesome, Ashley!,” “What are you, weirded out by the ride?,” “You may never return from Devil’s Flight,” “Hey! Meet you at the end!,” “Show me your titties!,” “You know, you’re a real piece of shit, Lewis. Fuck you!,” “Ian McKinley. How pathetic is it that I have the same last name as my school?,” “You’re not alone,” “What are you doing? No one’s walking in here and seeing me naked,” “Shit, I forgot my I-Pod. Sucks, bitch,” “Why are you wearing underwear?,” “I so feel this is so my fault,” “Please tell me there’s a short in your wiring,” “Willful ignorance is surrendering control!,” “Did I do something to bring this on to everybody?,” “So are you guys saying death is, like, a person?,” “Death is fucking complicated,” “Fuck you, Ben Franklin,” “Get the fuck out of here, McKinley!,” and “Oh, shit, not again.”

Rating: 6.0/10.0

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

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Happy Halloween!

Final Destination 3

Mary Elizabeth Winstead– Wendy Christensen
Ryan Merriman– Kevin Fischer
Kris Lemche– Ian McKinley
Alexz Johnson– Erin
Sam Easton– Frankie Cheeks
Jesse Moss– Jason Wise
Gina Holden– Carrie Dreyer
Texas Battle– Lewis Romero
Chelan Simmons– Ashley Freund
Crystal Lowe– Ashlyn Halperin

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by James Wong
Screenplay by Glen Morgan and James Wong, based on characters created by Jeffrey Redick

Distributed by New Line Cinema and New Line Home Video

Rated R for strong horror violence and gore, language, and some nudity.
Runtime– 93 minutes

Buy it here