Planes, trains, automobiles; the Final Destination franchise has them covered. Is there no safe place for precocious, horny teenagers to hang out and have a good time? Not if the filmmakers have anything to say about it. If there’s one thing these films have taught us, it’s you can’t cheat death. You can piss it off and make it incredibly angry, but death is like the cold sore on your lip: Just when you think it’s done, it comes back with a vengeance.
Death is especially pernicious in FD3, tossing together another group of teenagers into the middle of an amusement park that’s not particularly amusing. For Wendy, it’s a nightmare come true. In true Final Destination fashion, Wendy has a premonition about a deadly roller coaster accident. Anyone familiar with the franchise knows premonitions play out in the most spectacular way.
So when Wendy’s friends attempt to drag her aboard a roller-coaster, she begs off and manages to convince some of her friends to join her. Others are not so lucky and ride the coaster, which malfunctions, killing them. Those who managed to disembark can’t believe their luck, but fate is fickle and it’s only a matter of time before the group starts dropping like flies.
Like David Warner’s doomed photographer in The Omen, Wendy’s camera provides a peek into death’s plan, with every Kodak moment developing into a horrific portrait. The Final Destination films treat death like a Rube Goldberg contraption. Death doesn’t just strike these characters down; it sets into motion a series of events guaranteed to produce the most awesome demise possible.
Director James Wong and co-writer Glen Morgan, X-Files and FD veterans, love misdirection, incorporating it whenever possible. They know we know there’s no plot, just a series of sick and twisted deaths. Instead of just splashing the screen in crimson and sinew, the filmmakers force us to jump through hoops, enduring one close call after another until the final strike. The payoffs are worth the setups.
The characters in Final Destination 3 are less sympathetic than in the first two films. They’re more obnoxious and annoying. The characters are what I call condom kids: Use and abuse them, and then throw them out. We want to see them die and, in some cases, hope it’s going to be big and painful. Wong and Morgan never disappoint. They have no choice but to up the ante and find new ways to vivisect, behead, torch, dismember, slice, dice, nail and chop their characters. Oddly, that’s entertainment.