01/03/2006. Contributed by Frank Ochieng
The reliable formula for pitting carefree teens with terrorizing forces has been an instrumental plot device in the horror genre for what seems to be an eternity in cinema, says Frank. For some inexplicable reasoning, there's a perverse pleasure in watching clueless adolescents meet their Maker in slaughterhouse fashion. Is this some hidden grim wishful thinking that slyly comments on the welcomed eradication of expendable vapid youths?
Final Destination 3 (2006). New Line Cinema.
The reliable formula for pitting carefree teens with terrorizing forces has been an instrumental plot device in the horror genre for what seems to be an eternity in cinema. For some inexplicable reasoning, there's a perverse pleasure in watching clueless adolescents meet their Maker in slaughterhouse fashion. Is this some hidden grim wishful thinking that slyly comments on the welcomed eradication of expendable vapid youths?
Is it a twisted satirical commentary on how we would like to disregard our self-absorbed young pretty people seeing as though we're a throwaway society in concept? Whatever the nagging forethought, there's one thing perfectly clear-we will never run out of annoying youths in big screen peril nor will we escape the continued rut of banal boofests that pop up like a stubborn zit on a puberty-stricken high schooler.
So are we ready for another tiresome round of gruesome goofiness in the realm of unruly kids becoming mincemeat for our menacing-minded thrills? In director/co-screenwriter James Wong's chintzy chop-and-chew session Final Destination 3, the tiring novelty is being forced down our throats for an uneventful third instalment involving the random deadly fate of circumstances that claim the spirited lives of its punishing coming-of-age victims.
As for the contradictory movie title, there's nothing final or conclusive about the exhaustive sequels and the original blueprint that is persistent in draining its gimmicky gore for cheap lingering effect. Convincingly pointless and breezy in its hedonistic hokum, Final Destination 3 wears out its sensationalistic, sadistic welcome. Hence, the third time around is not the charm for this foolish and faceless fright flick.
As both casual and avid followers of the first two Final Destination movies already know, the underlying premise involves a situational turn of horrific events that develop for the worst. The first edition featured a plane crash while the second serving centred on a horrible traffic accident. But now the stakes are higher as our sacrificial protagonists knock on death's door courtesy of the ultimate symbolism of recreational recklessness-the amusement ride known as the roller coaster.
So what's causing the Rube Goldberg-style deaths that plague our high school moving targets? Is the Grim Reaper working overtime as he kicks some tail while taking serious numbers? High school senior Wendy Christensen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead from Sky High) and her fellow classmates decide to take in some high-flying fun at the local amusement park. Wendy gets caught up in the moment of taking pictures of her friends and the sort. When it is suggested that everyone try the roller coaster, Wendy starts to experience some ominous visionary static about this daunting activity. Joining Wendy on this thrill ride is her boyfriend Jay (Jesse Moss), best buddy Carrie (Gina Holden) and Carrie's boy-toy Kevin (Ryan Merriman). Those premonition signals that rendered Wendy's mind senseless were accurate-the roller-coaster ride finally results in a disastrous end for both Jay and Carrie.
It wouldn't be long before Wendy and the other survivors of the roller-coaster tragedy start looking over their shoulders wondering when the death sentence for their designated purposes will become a harsh reality. After discovering the awful demise of a couple of surviving souls being burnt to a crisp inside a tanning salon, leftover participants Wendy and Kevin must somehow dodge the bullet of destruction if they are to continue living in a nightmarish existence.
At first, there was an inherent cleverness about the cynicism involving the mortality of misguided teens and their oblivious attitude about trying to play by the rules as their youthfulness doesn't give them any automatic pass to remain untouchable in the unpredictable game of life. But the impulse to swerve to the ultra-ridiculousness unfortunately turned the Final Destination movie franchise into another wasted, over-the-top teen-scream series armed with corrosive and clichéd gratuitous overtones.
The clear intent behind Wong and co-writer Glen Morgan's wild imagination is to arbitrarily stir up a mindless mixture of macabre mayhem. Basically, they want to outdo the animated brutality of the prior Destination offerings by upping the ante in visual ribaldry. The deaths are more grisly (Wow, a fan blade beheading!), the teens are more morally corrupt than usual (Hmmm, maybe these misbehaved punks deserved to be tormented and tortured?), and the babes show more titillating flesh (What a turn-on to see these desirable naked babes expire with despicable exaggeration!). Yet Wong and Morgan never establishes a legitimate sympathetic foundation for their vacant stereotypical characters to develop and be counted as interesting pawns being subjected to the overwrought tumult that haunts them so vigorously. Winstead's Wendy is a passable leading lass and the key element to all the contrived craziness that exists. However, her supporting players bring no frothy lather to this brittle blood bath.
Plus, there's more concentration on the manner in which they colourfully die than the psychological understanding as to why the animated executions are taking place period? And we're never really challenged to inquire about where the mysterious sinister forces are coming from that methodically pick off the pubescent prey like sitting ducks in a pond? The synthetic dialogue is laughable and the movie cannot determine its identity crisis. Does it want to be a serious-minded slasher movie about ambivalent teens and their sense of undetermined direction? Or does this hair-raising dud want to be a disguised caustic comedy about the familiar horror flicks it's awkwardly spoofing in sardonic form?
If you're taking bets for a Final Destination 4, might we suggest that the next doomsday set-up involve a malfunctioning elevator full of uncreative middle-aged screenwriters and opportunistic grey-haired Hollywood movie executives instead?
(c) Frank Ochieng 2006