Today we move away from Millennium one more time to look at another slice of Morgan & Wong legacy: Final Destination.
This rather quirky horror carried a rather quirky premise: what if you managed to avoid the point when you were meant to die? What if Death was rather miffed by this discourteous lack of time-keeping in regards to copping it, and looked for the nearest opportunity to re-adjust his records. By this I mean – what crafty ways can Death come and kill those pesky people who haven’t died? You get the picture.
Final Destination has since spun a franchise. Teen after teen who has avoided death finding there is no escape from their chosen fate. )Last year we had Keegan Connor Tracey talk about her role in Final Destination 2 in the Millennium Group Podcasts
So to commemorate the first – and often argued to be the best – of the Final Destination movies, written and conceived by Morgan and Wong, here’s a little video montage to the events of the first film!
So what can be said about Final Destination?
It was written by Morgan and Wong, with James Wong directing and Glen Morgan working as a film producer. It came out in March 2000 and started Devon “Idle Hands” Sawa, Ali “Resident Evil: Extinction” Larter, Seann “Gross-Out Teen Movie” William Scott and of course, Kristen “Millennium/Space:Above and Beyond” Cloke. Soundtrack was by the great Shirley “Batman: The Animated Series” Walker.
The film opens with Alex Browning’s High School trip to Paris. Prior to the flight, he dreams of his aircraft’s destruction, and as they prepare to take off, he finds life is imitating his dream too closely.. Acting on his fears, he gets himself, a few friends and his teacher thrown off the flight before it takes off. They soon realise his dream has saved their lives and cheated death… but death is a sore loser, and one by one the flight survivors are knocked off by the most feared force of nature…
It has to be said, I’m not a horror fan. Anyone who has listened to our Horror Special for the Millennium Group Sessions perhaps will remember me bleating on about the fact. However, Final Destination I take exception to – yes, I rather like it. It’s silly, nasty and fun – in a horrifyingly inescapable death-stalking way. I always felt Final Destination championed what I see as the quint-essential asset to any good horror film: life is bloody unfair. Yes, Horror works best when its victims are those who don’t deserve it in anyway whatsoever.
When I first heard of Final Destination I figured it was a group of kids who intentionally look to cheat death via premonition , but it isn’t – it’s one poor sod who reacts to a dream and others who are forced along with his actions. No one goes out to cheat death really. Alex is perhaps the only one you could point a finger at when he realises, but only in a natural human urge to survive. The rest don’t believe him until they see the event for themselves. These aren’t stupid kids who have wandered into a haunted house, or decided to dabble with arcane magic they shouldn’t, or have released a horror onto the world through some stupid curiosity. These guys are just off to Paris. Their death is pure bad luck – and in tandem, so is their survival. That’s a very neat mirror for a horror film.
So Final Destination is made more horrific by the fact these poor bastards didn’t really cheat death, and the one who set the ball in motion only did so by some freaky dream. You’d feel that Death would perhaps feel a little sympathy for these guys, and if it did, it certainly kept its sympathy under wraps as some of the deaths – surprise surprise – are not pleasant (though some to be fair, are actually quite quick – perhaps Death had a pang of empathy and felt obliged to give that particular victim a high speed train to the head. Not much time to feel anything there…)
It’s a unique concept – one you’d expect from the likes of Morgan and Wong – throwing a little revitalisation to the horror genre. Of course, the state of the franchise now is more questionable – as Millennium fan/horror writer John Kenneth Muir points out in a recent review.
The below is an excerpt of that review – a slice which I think is both fascinating and very relevant to the original film.
“Watching a death scene unfold in the original Final Destination (2000) is like watching God play Ideal Toy’s classic board game, Mouse Trap. With people.
And heavy machinery.
I admire this approach because, in some odd way, I believe it actually reflects the shape of life (and death). Case in point, and I’ve told this story before: In 1989, I was driving to Richmond from New Jersey with my parents. We made a last minute decision to take the family van and not our smaller sedan. About half-way to Richmond, we became positioned on 1-95 behind a car carrying a surfboard on its roof. In short order, the surfboard became unloosed from the top of the car, and — like a guided missile — flew backwards into our van’s grill. It bounced off and did minimal damage.
But had we been driving in the sedan, the surfboard would have smashed right through our windshield and probably decapitated everyone in the car. I’ve never forgotten this incident (which is probably why I’ve brought it up on the blog more than once.)
I remember the feeling of inevitability — the impression of my life in slow-motion — like it was yesterday. I remember seeing the board’s restraints break; I remember seeing the surfboard shake and shimmy on the roof-top of the car ahead. I remember the wind lifting it up like a plane on ascent. And I remember the surfboard gliding right at us and thinking, finally, “This is it…I’m gonna die.” And what a weird, unexpected way to go…
The Final Destination (in 3-D no less) is perfectly positioned to thrive on that very brand of feeling: on the inevitability of death; on the relief at miraculously evading it; on the thought “There but for the Grace of God go I.”
This is from John’s fantastic blog, Reflections on Film and Television. The FULL article on the latest in the Final Destination franchise – and comments the article received – can be found here. Please support his work!
Do you want to own the first three movies on DVD? Final Destination 1, 2 AND 3 on REGION1 DVD? Films that’s cast and crew include Millennium wonders such as Morgan and Wong, Kristen Cloke and of course Keegan Connor Tracey? You know the drill! Name and address on an email labelled “Final Destination” and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll pick the winner later tomorrow!
Tomorrow will be the final day of Morgan and Wong Week, and to finish off the seven days we have a feature length podcast with Glen Morgan himself.
This is quite an event as Glen’s not spoken about Millennium in many, many years. So this is one to look forward to!