End of the line for ‘Final Destination’?
If, indeed, it’s time for the “Final Destination” ride to end, the third installment perverts the grace-note concept enough for an appropriate finish.”Grace note” and “appropriate” are, of course, relative terms: We’re talking about a horror movie for teenagers, about teenagers, after all. And in order to deem the gore and brutality of “Final Destination 3” graceful you have to stomach it first – a task for which some members of the audience at the screening I watched seemed unprepared.
Yet, within the boundaries it establishes, “Final Destination 3” is as well-mannered and taut a movie as I’ve seen in its genre, provided that we’re not letting the boundaries blur between horror and suspense. Despite being the third part of (I hope) a trilogy, it doesn’t need a masked sociopath or Grim Reaper to be scary, and it would never be so gauche as to elicit cheap scares by bringing the dead back from beyond. Like a dumber “Duel” or less moronic “Maximum Overdrive,” the irresistible force of death animating everyday objects is enough to propel the movie forward – and scare most viewers witless. The plot should probably be familiar to anybody who’s seen either of the first two “Final Destination” installments: A teenager (in this case Wendy Christensen, played by North Carolina cutie Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a premonition of death and heeds it, setting a series of fatal accidents into motion.
Certainly “Final Destination 3” is flawed. If the dialogue isn’t exactly the crackling, omnireferential wit of “Scream” at least it’s not the drab, willful stuck-in-the-’70s ignorance of, say, “When a Stranger Calls.” Putting in two “Heathers”-lite Goths (Alexz Johnson and Kris Lemche) might not be the answer, but the smart-alecky chorus they provide does liven things up.Since the Goths aren’t up for it, the black humor comes from the special-effects-heavy deaths the teens suffer at the hands of merciless fate. The first few, in an extravagant set piece of a roller coaster crash, set the “Oh-my-God-they-didn’t-just …” tone so viewers can appreciate the twisted humor lurking behind the rest of the deaths.
That the ending for each team seems to come from the business end of some Rube Goldberg device shows how thin the “Final Destination” franchise has stretched its conceit. But I still consider it high praise for the third part of a trilogy to suck me in and make me want to see the first two.It might be a short trip from “Final Destination 3” to the end of the line, but at least I was enjoying the ride.
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