The Final Destination: A Car Crash of a Sequel

As a new (hopefully) weekly feature, Worst, Movie, Ever will be a place to take second glances at movies with bad reputations. No, this won’t be a column where we look obvious candidates like Troll 2 or Plan 9 from Outer Space. To be fair, realistic expectations for those movies should have been low. Occasionally, a movie with reasonable talent behind and in front of the camera just crashes and burns. I’m talking about movies with ‘can’t miss’ premises, decent budgets, built-in audiences – but still manage to fail. I’m talking about The Final Destination.

Does the poorly received sequel deserve some critical re-consideration? Or were critics and audiences right to turn their nose up to it back in 2009? At the conclusion of each Worst, Movie, Ever column, I’ll render a simple verdict – ‘So Bad It’s Good’ or ‘Just Bad.’

Synopsis

College student Nick O’Bannon, along with his girlfriend and friends, are spending an afternoon at the McKinley Speedway. During the race, Nick has a premonition of a horrific raceway accident that triggers a mass panic and several deaths. Nick panics getting himself and several bystanders kicked out, thus averting the very tragedy he foresaw. But now Death is stalking Nick and the survivors, killing them in the order in which they were originally intended to die.

The Final Destination Is Lazy, Even By Sequel Standards

Okay, four films into a series and expectations should be rather guarded. Eventually you’re bound to see a drop-off in quality. It happened with Insidious: The Last Key and A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Master. But The Final Destination is more akin to a steep dive off of a cliff. Seriously, The Final Destination is a shockingly lazy movie. Where do you start? Maybe the use of ‘The’ in the movie’s title rather than ‘Part 4’ was an indicator the creative bankruptcy surrounding the sequel.


Most of this sequel’s death scenes are instantly forgettable, characterized by lazy set-up’s and a notable absence of the series’ dark humour.

As a horror franchise, the Final Destination series has a remarkably simple yet fun premise. No one was expecting any major tinkering with the formula. All audiences wanted to see were some creative and darkly funny deaths. Still the makers of The Final Destination managed to screw it up. Most of this sequel’s death scenes are instantly forgettable, characterized by lazy set-up’s and a notable absence of the series’ dark humour. A tow truck drags a racist redneck down the street before he catches on fire. A pool drain sucks out another character’s innards. This was a series that worked by playing on our worst, yet plausible, worst fears. Pool drains scared me, too – when I was five-years-old.

Are You Kidding Me?

Cheap-Looking CGI Effects ‘Drain’ This Sequel of All Its Fun

Do you remember the amazing first scene from Final Destination 2? You know, the elaborate multiple car crash death premonition scene? Sadly, The Final Destination never comes close to replicating that scene. In contract, this sequel is an absolutely cheap-looking movie with terrible CGI-effects. We’re talking SyFY movie special effects that would make Sharknado blush.


Other scenes, such as the car wash malfunction, just come across as funny in all the wrong ways.

The poor special effects are most evident in the movie’s opening death premonition. Let’s face it, horror movies do not need big-budget effects to succeed. This is a genre that often shines brightest when filmmakers use DIY-guerrilla style tactics. But Final Destination is a franchise that is to some extent held hostage by the simplicity of its own premise. That is, the death scenes need to be elaborate, fun, and convincing. Sadly, The Final Destination looks rushed and cheap, thus draining much of the fun out of watching it. The raceway car crash looks terrible. Other scenes, such as the car wash malfunction, just come across as funny in all the wrong ways.

Stilted Dialogue and Cheap Cast Round Out This Dud

Before the current horror renaissance that we’re experiencing, horror movies typically starred unknowns or young up-and-comers. Prior to the third sequel, the Final Destination series had been something of launching pad for a lot of recognizable actors. Ali Larter, Devon Sawa, Kerr Smith, Sean William Scott, A.J. Cook, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Not all of these actors went on to big and great things. But you know who they are and probably still recognize them.


Who stars in The Final Destination? No one you’ve likely heard of or recognize

Who stars in The Final Destination? No one you’ve likely heard of or recognize. Where’s Tony Todd? He doesn’t even show up in a cameo or voice role. Not surprisingly, the performance are stiffer than some of the movie’s corpses. Of course, the actors are working with a script suffering from advanced rigor mortis. Some of this sequel’s expository dialogue is cringe-worthy. At times, I thought the sequel was recycling dialogue word-for-word from the previous movies.


The Final Destination Almost Killed A Franchise

No, The Final Destination isn’t the worst horror movie ever. That’s not the point of this column. I included the third sequel in the Final Destination series because bungles a fun, simple concept and nearly derailed the franchise in the process. And ‘franchise killer’ almost definitely qualifies you for inclusion in this column.

Final Verdict: Just Bad

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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