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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Final Destination

October 16, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Final Destination

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #527: Final Destination

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been hit by a city bus (or any kind of bus, actually), The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and twenty-seven, I take a look at the inventive supernatural horror flick Final Destination, which hit movie theatres in mid-March of the year 2000.

Final Destination


Final Destination, directed and co-written by James Wong (Glen Morgan and Jeffrey Redick also participated in writing the screenplay), is a very cool idea for a movie that’s also expertly executed. The cast is kind of annoying, but the death scenes are well done and inventive, and the movie also has Tony Todd in it, and that’s always awesome.

Final Destination stars Devon Sawa as Alex Browning, a sort of hip and edgy high school student that’s supposed to go to Paris, France, with his friends and fellow classmates as part of some sort of senior trip. After boarding the plane, Alex falls asleep and has a super messed up dream where he and his friends and everyone else on the plane die in a massive explosion. Alex wakes up, causes a disturbance on the plane with some of his fellow students, talks about the plane exploding, and gets kicked off the plane along with his best friend Tod (Chad Donella), douchebag Carter Horton (Kerr Smith), Carter’s girlfriend Terry (Amanda Detmer), Billy Hitchcock (Seann William Scott), teacher Ms. Lewton (Kristen Cloke), and the hip and edgy and somewhat mysterious Clear Rivers (Ali Larter). Everyone is pissed at Alex for getting them kicked off the plane as they all really wanted to go to Paris. They all watch the plane fly off into the sky. And then, in mid-air, the plane explodes in a giant fireball.

How the hell did Alex know that was going to happen? His fellow ex-passengers want to know, and the FBI wants to know, too. Agents Weine (the immortal Daniel Roebuck) and Schreck (Roger Guenveur Smith) question everyone about the flight, about Alex, etc. The agents don’t really believe that Alex is a terrorist or that he did anything to cause the explosion, but at the same time they would like to know how Alex turned out to be so damn right. Why did that plane explode?

Some time passes, the school community has a big hooha memorial service for everyone who died, and just about everyone is creeped the fuck out by Alex because, again, no one knows how the hell he “knew” that the plane would explode. Carter seems to think that Alex is a witch (probably not literally, but, at the moment, it explains just enough). The only two people who seem to be sympathetic towards Alex are his friend Tod and the mysterious Clear. Now, Clear really doesn’t know Alex, they don’t travel in the same social circles, but for some reason when Alex freaked out on the plane Clear felt like he was right and she had to get off the plane. Weird? Fuck yeah. But is there an explanation for that feeling?

After the memorial, everyone disperses to their homes and whatnot. Life will somehow have to go on. And that’s when even weirder shit starts happening. It all starts with Tod and his apparent suicide, when he’s found dead in his bathtub after strangling himself. Why the hell would Tod commit suicide? He wasn’t depressed or suicidal. He talked with Alex about going to a baseball game. You don’t make plans with people and then commit suicide, do you?

Alex decides to investigate. Eventually, Alex hooks up with Clear (no, not in that way) and they investigate together. They decide to break into the local funeral home to look at Tod’s body themselves. While looking at Tod’s body, they run into the mortician, a guy named Bludworth (Tony Todd). And it’s here, while talking with Bludworth, that Alex and Clear get a better understanding of what’s likely happening. In short, death has a plan, and when that plan gets screwed up, death has to find a way to get that plan back on track. The people who didn’t die on the plane were supposed to die, but because of Alex’s vision, they didn’t. So now death has to find a way to kill those people that didn’t die. That’s why Tod died.

Well, shit. If that is why Tod is dead, who the fuck is death going to come for next?

The rest of Final Destination is devoted to figuring out who is set to die next and how to fuck up death’s new plan. I won’t say how Alex and Clear figure out death’s plan, but I will say that, in its own way, it makes total sense. The plan also shows that death, as a character, is vindictive as hell. Death wants its plan to work, death wants people to die, that’s its job. When that plan doesn’t work, death has to come up with some other scheme to get what it wants. And death, no matter what, always finds a way.

Now, death is, more or less, an unseen force throughout the movie. You do occasionally see a shadow moving in the background that kind of looks like the Grim Reaper, but it’s only for a few brief moments. When death strikes death is essentially invisible. Considering that we can see death in action, strangling people and whatnot, it’s odd that death isn’t given more of a definitive representation that we see for more than a few seconds every now and then. Not showing death as a presence shouldn’t work. And yet, somehow, director Wong makes it work.

I was surprised by the general lack of gore in the movie. Yes, there are bloody moments, like the decapitation sequence towards the end of the movie, but I was expecting more blood and guts. Most of the death sequences (and attempted death sequences) are spectacular, filled with all sorts of elaborate practical and CGI effects. Death sure enjoys using electricity to attack people in this movie.

The best death sequence? The third one. It’s a brilliant series of escalating events. It’s a cartoon. And while the result is sad, at the same time, it’s also ridiculous. No one should have to go through all of that just to die. Tod’s death, which is the first individual death sequence, is depressing as hell. It starts out spectacularly and then ends pathetically. The poor guy never had a chance, despite fighting tooth and nail to get out of his predicament.

The cast is decent, although, again, some of the actors are annoying. The least annoying include Devon Sawa, who does a good job as the lead character Alex. He’s likeable and resourceful, which is what you want in a character that has to figure out how to take on a supernatural force that likely can’t be stopped. I mean, you want to root for that guy, you don’t want to see him die. And Chad Donella does a fine job as Alex’s best friend Tod. It’s hard to hate him. And Kristen Cloke’s Ms. Lewton character is someone I’d like to see more of. She decides to move away from town because she just can’t be around the school or Alex anymore. How did she figure that out? And when did she figure it out? That could be its own short film.

As for the annoying characters/actors, the top of the list is Ali Larter’s Clear. While Larter is a fine actress and all, her smart and resourceful and tough kid living on her own character is just a little too on the nose to be anything other than, well, annoying. As soon as I saw her living situation I said “oh, come on.” I should have known better, though, because the first thing we see her do in the movie is read a book. When you read a book and wear a shirt that exposes your stomach and you’re a somewhat attractive woman that’s movie shorthand for smart and resourceful and tough. The sculptures she makes are cool, though.

Seann William Scott essentially plays a kind of low key Steve Stifler from American Pie as Billy Hitchcock. You would think he’s in the movie to provide some comedy relief, but he really isn’t allowed to. He tries to do his usual Seann William Scott shtick, but it comes off as whining instead of something funny. His only really funny moment is his last scene.

Kerr Smith is a total prick as Carter, the jock asshole with the muscle car who thinks Alex is a witch. He doesn’t really get to do much until the end of the movie, when he becomes almost sympathetic, which is why he’s more annoying than cool (or threatening, for that matter). I would have loved to see more from him and his girlfriend Terry, played by Amanda Detmer. They seem to have a lively, weird relationship. As for Detmer, I love her and don’t want to call her annoying, so I’m not going to. She does hang out with an annoying guy.

And Roger Guenveur Smith is annoying as FBI agent Schreck because he doesn’t really have any “we’re partners” chemistry with Daniel Roebuck’s Agent Weine, who is fabulous (and that’s because Daniel Roebuck is always fabulous. The man can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned). Schreck also seems like he’s a robot or a cyborg or something.

As for Tony Todd as the creepy mortician Bludworth, man, he’s awesome. Why does he only have one scene? And am I the only one who cringed when he pulled that silver mortician’s tool from Tod’s neck? Bludworth should have had at least one more scene.

What the heck is the deal with horror movies featuring young people from around 1996 to about 2005? Why does it seem as though these characters are more annoying than young people in horror movies from other decades? Is it because of the whole “perpetually sullen” thing?

I enjoyed Final Destination quite a bit. I didn’t see it when it first came out, and I look forward to checking out the remaining four movies in the franchise (I did see parts of the second one on TV but I didn’t watch the whole thing). It’s time to get caught up, at least on this franchise. It may take me a while to do it, but I’m going to make the effort to see them all at some point.

See Final Destination. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 5

Explosions: Multiple, big and small.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: An ominous opening theme, weird figurines, a fan, weird old paintings of death, tag ripping, paranoia about plane crashes, an eerie wind, a premonition, a luggage tag that says “Final Destination,” multiple public displays of affection, an overheard shot of people taking a shit in a public bathroom, a crying baby, mild silent homophobia, turbulence that becomes major turbulence, oxygen masks, multiple explosions, the side of the plane comes of, people flying out of the plane, a geyser of blood, people being thrown of a plane, an airport brawl, exploding airplane, an FBI interrogation, multiple heart breaking stories about guilt for what just happened, rain, news coverage, a weird lightning strike, a massive memorial service, a statue of a giant eagle, more people taking a shit, air disaster research, attempted dry face shaving, sinister blue toilet water pooling on the water for some reason, nose hair clipping, attempted listening to the radio, pantyhose hooey, involuntary strangulation in a bathtub, breaking and entering into a funeral parlor, a mortician explaining stuff, coffee drinking, terrible driving, death by bus, an old record, long matches, vodka, a computer that shorts out, an exploding monitor, glass shard to the neck, a massive fire, exploding kitchen, knife to the chest, exploding house, hanging out at the beach, potential suicide by train, exploding car, unexpected decapitation, canned food eating, crumpled up paper throwing, exploding power lines, rowboat hooey, lit candle hooey, a foot chase through the woods, attempted electrocution, a terrified dog, a falling tree, an almost drowning, a very persistent sinister power line, shovel hooey, and a giant sign attack.

Kim Richards?: Yes, off screen.

Gratuitous: A plane ticket to Paris, France, “… and Tony Tod,” a Pecker poster, male jock bullshit, Seann William Scott, a weird religious pamphleteer at the airport, high school bullshit, Seann William Scott eating a bag of Whoppers on a plane, exploding airport, Daniel Roebuck, Daniel Roebuck as an FBI agent, a flowers ceremony, a Penthouse magazine, involuntary strangulation, Tony Todd, Tony Todd playing a mortician, Alka Seltzer hooey, multiple John Denver songs on the soundtrack, multiple explosions, multiple explosions, and Paris, France six months later.

Best lines: “Alex, you take care of him! I will!” “What’s the fuck he want?,” “Death is not the end,” “Alex, let’s go take a shit,” “Anyone see Billy Hitchcock? How did we lose him?,” “Because of you I have to sit here and watch fucking Stuart Little,” “What’s your fucking problem?,” “But I didn’t fight with anyone!,” “You been on a lot of planes that exploded?,” “There they go, here we stay,” “What’s going on? Is there any survivors?,” “Carter!,” “I’m never gonna die!,” “Don’t talk to me you scare the hell out of me,” “Because of you I’m still alive. Thank you,” “What’s happened? Where’s Tod?,” “Do you know what this is?,” “Is that him? I guess. Why did they make him up like Michael Jackson?,” “In death there are no accidents, no coincidences, no mishaps, and no escapes,” “No harm, no foul. I’ll see you soon,” “Enough! They died! We didn’t! Move on!,” “That kid gives me the creeps,” “Dude,” “Interesting work,” “Please tell me I’m gonna see the Jets win a Superbowl!,” “I knew I should have felt up Tammy in the pool that one time,” “Carter, stop driving like such an asshole,” “It ain’t my time,” and “The car is going to explode!”

Rating: 7.5/10.0


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Things to Watch Out For


Three from Hell: This, of course, is the third movie in the Firefly family saga (or trilogy or whatever the hell they’re calling it) and the highly anticipated sequel to The Devil’s Rejects. It was released earlier this fall as part of a three night theatrical thing via Fathom Events, and that three night shindig was so successful that it was given a fourth night in October. I saw it (check out my review of the movie here) and thought it was good, as long as you could deal with the whole “the Firefly family is reprehensible” thing. I bet fans of writer/director Rob Zombie’s output will love it. Bill Mosley, Sheri Moon Zombie, and Sid Haig are back (Haig’s appearance is very brief), and there’s a new Firefly family member in Winslow Foxworth Coltrane, played by Richard Brake, who does a great job. As I say in my review, I doubt that this is the last time we see the Firefly family in action, and I’d imagine that the movie’s home video release will be popular and we won’t have to wait fourteen years for another one.


Crawl: I missed this killer crocodile movie from director Alexandre Aja when it was in theatres, which I’m still bummed about because it was something that I wanted to see on the big screen. The trailers for it were great, and, really, when was the last awesome killer crocodile/alligator movie? Lake Placid? Crawl managed to snag some great reviews, and I bet the movie will develop an even larger audience now that it’s on home video. And maybe, in like ten years or so, it will become a “midnight movie” staple at various independent movie theatres that show old movies and whatnot. Anyone reading this get a chance to see Crawl on the big screen this past summer? Does it deserve all of the praise?


Devil’s Revenge: This is apparently some sort of low budget horror movie about the devil and a portal to hell or some such. Jeri Ryan is in it, as is William Shatner. And Shatner has access to a shotgun. That fact alone makes this movie a must see. The trailer boasts some terrific looking special effects, and this is definitely something I want to check out at some point. Again, Bill Shatner has a shotgun in this. That’s goddamn awesome. I don’t even need to know what the movie is actually about. Bill Shatner has a shotgun.


My Samurai Collector’s Edition: I have no idea what this movie is. I’ve never seen it, and I’ve never heard of it, either. However, this Blu-ray comes to us from the fine folks at MVD as part of its MVD Rewind Collection, so you know that the home video presentation will be excellent. And according to imdb, Mako and Terry O’Quinn are in it, so that’s cool. The plot almost seems like a riff on The Karate Kid, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t know. I still want to check this out, though. The trailer is pretty badass. I mean, look at the way the bad guys dispose of dead bodies.


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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.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Final Destination

Devon Sawa– Alex Browning
Ali Larter– Clear Rivers
Kerr Smith– Carter Horton
Kristen Cloke– Ms. Lewton
Daniel Roebuck– Agent Weine
Chad Donella– Tod Waggner
Roger Guenveur Smith– Agent Schreck
Seann William Scott– Billy Hitchcock
Amanda Detmer– Terry Chaney
Tony Todd– Bludworth

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by James Wong
Screenplay by Glen Morgan, James Wong, and Jeffrey Redick, based on a story by Jeffrey Redick

Distributed by New Line Cinema and New Line Home Video

Rated R for violence and terror and for language
Runtime– 98 minutes

Buy it here