Friday, June 5, 2009

By Plane, By Car, By Bike, Bye Bye!


The trailer for Final Destination 4 - aka The Final Destination - has already been online for awhile now but I didn't want it to go by unmentioned here. Original franchises are few and far between these days with studios turning to remakes and reboots of past classics to interest movie goers rather than sequels - the exceptions of the current decade being the Saw series and the Final Destination films (with Hostel's would-be franchise status stalling out with Part II). But while the Saw series has done little to interest me, my affection for the Grand Guignol-meets-Looney Tunes antics of the Final Destination films knows no bounds.

For me, FD is the perfect horror series. They're live-action splatter cartoons, void of pretense but with just enough slickness via their studio backing to be spectacular. And I love that with every FD film, things essentially start at square one. There's no baggage to carry from film to film and that's how it should be. The more the Halloween series became burdened by the convoluted Strode family lineage and by the Cult of the Thorn, the shittier it got (and then it got even worse). And look at where Saw series has ended up with its endless flashbacks - and flashbacks within flashbacks - involving so many characters you have to be Jigsaw himself at this point to comprehend what you're watching. With FD, however, there's no on-going characters to remember - none that matter, at least - no lingering plot threads, and most importantly, there's no villain to run into the ground.

By refusing to personify Death, the makers of the Final Destination series have given fans the peace of mind of knowing that every character's final exit won't be followed by a lame pun or bon mot. Death also doesn't care about anyone's life choices so there's no chiding his/her/its victims with insipid moral lessons. Whether you're a junkie or a schoolteacher - or both - it doesn't matter. And because Death is an invisible, indefinable force, FD fans will never have a shit backstory shoveled to them about Death's white trash's upbringing, thereby spoiling Death's mystique for all future sequels. And for all this, I'd like to tell the FD producers "thanks".

While some jackasses like to whine that no FD sequel has bothered to expand on the series' mythology, that's exactly why the series is still worth a damn. There's no story to advance, it's just the same story every time. The appeal of the series is in its Omen-esque set-pieces. And unlike the Omen series, the FD films don't have to carry the Bible on their back the whole time. There's no prophecies to avert or fulfill, just the hand of Death. And personally, that's more likely to make me nervous. With The Omen, as long as you don't get too nosy about the Anti-Christ, chances are you'll be fine. But with the FD films, we're all on an equal playing field. Death overrides all beliefs or superstitions. It's not about whether you're on the side of God or the Devil and there's no Book of Revelations to keep you forewarned. It's not even like a Friday the 13th movie where Jason is pissed you're smoking dope in his woods and he feels that he owes you a machete in the head. It's just about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's about surviving a car crash but then the air bag deploys and rams your head through a steel pipe.

That, to me, is scarier than any horror villain. Jason, Freddy and Michael Myers are all make-believe boogeymen. And depending on your faith, you can say the same about the forces of Hell. But you can't be a skeptic about Death itself. That shit is real. Having each FD protagonist experience precognitive visions is as much fantasy as these films need. And really, I'd argue that they don't even need that.

For now, based on this trailer, it looks like FD hasn't lost a step. I imagine it'll be tough for the next FD to top the excitement of a 3-D entry but the thing about Death is that it comes back stronger every time.

The Final Destination trailer in HD

4 comments:

Unknown said...

I thought the first FD was a pretty smart well made horror film with some creative ides. The second one ran with what already had been established in the first film and just made a kick ass gore filled horror movie...it didn't need anything else to add. Just a tone of great death scenes with decent to good acting and competent film making.

I like the third one the least mostly because I don't think they could compete with some of the awesome deaths from the second film (especially the opening highway sequence), but I still like the movie though. Actually, I always leave anyone of the FD movies on when they are playing on television just to watch the great death scenes.

They're popcorn horror movies that keep everything simple and fun. Definitely a lot better than any one of the Saw films in my opinion.

The trailer for The Final Destination does look pretty friggin great though and I cant wait for the opening death scene at the race track...should be very cool.

Jeff Allard said...

The FD movies are definitely the epitome of 'popcorn horror'. And on that level, I think they're a hard set of films to top.

Blue Seven said...

Is it called THE Final Destination because it's supposedly going to be the last one, a la The Final Chapter? Sure hope not. I don't particularly hate the Saw movies, or both Hostels for that matter, but this franchise is far more enjoyable.

Jeff Allard said...

I really doubt they'll call it quits after this - unless it tanks, at least. But if it does even moderate business I bet we'll see another FD in a couple of years.