Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Final Destination 3

Illustration for article titled Final Destination 3

If nothing else, the original Final Destination deserves credit for cutting out some of the bullshit most horror films waste time on. Not bothering with a werewolf or a killer videotape or any of the usual devices, it pits its protagonists directly against death, which comes looking for them after they instinctively avoid a doomed airplane flight. The message beneath it all is the message that predominates the genre: You can't defeat death, only forestall it, and even forestalling it can be pretty scary.

Not that the movie itself was all that scary, or—apart from its choice of opponents and some Rube Goldberg-inspired death-by-a-bunch-of-objects-bumping-into-one-another bloodshed—all that inventive. It didn't really call out for a sequel, either, much less two. But here we are again, six years and many more dead teenagers later. After sitting out Final Destination 2, writer-producers Glen Morgan and James Wong return to do the slaying. They get the best bits out of the way early with an inspired, albeit physically dubious, disaster aboard a roller coaster. Star Mary Elizabeth Winstead and a handful of friends escape thanks to a last-minute premonition, but Winstead's psychic flash essentially ensures that they'll die even grislier deaths later on. The film has 93 minutes to fill, after all.

And fill them it does, with more bloody setpieces that don't quite live up to the opening sequence. (Here's a hint: If you ever find yourself in one of these movies, do your best to avoid sharp objects and nail guns.) Fans of the genre might appreciate the decidedly R-rated violence and nudity, but that's really all the film has to offer. Though one moment is interesting for all the wrong reasons: In one of several scenes in which Winstead and perennial horror-movie victim Ryan Merriman discover that photographs can sometimes predict disasters, they use a photo of a plane casting a shadow on the World Trade Center as an example. Still too soon, guys.