The franchise that was one of my first introductions to the horror genre. The Final Destination franchise is almost a passage of rite for teens and have been massively popular since the first installment dropped in 2000. The basic set-up follows a teenage protagonist and their friends on some sort of adventure or activity when the protagonist suddenly has a tragic premonition that sees their demise. The protagonist then prevents them and their friends going through with the premonition only to discover that the group starts to die violently and mysteriously one by one.
With the news that the studios have sixth and seventh installments planned for release, it made me think back on the films that helped shape my love for horror and I thought it would be a nice idea to see where they would rank.
Here are my reviews for each installment:
Final Destination (2000)
The one that started the craze. We follow recent graduate, Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) who is venturing off to Paris with his classmates. He suddenly has a graphic premonition that sees the plane explode and every passenger diminishes. Alex freaks out and is escorted off the plane along with several of his classmates. Minutes after the plane takes off, it explodes and Alex finds himself under police investigation. It doesn’t end there however as the survivors start to die one by one in violently crazy ways as death seeks its revenge. The film brings something new to the table while also paying homage to previous franchises such as the welcome cameo by Tony Todd who works as a mortician. As the film goes on, the deaths become more and more elaborate compared to his friend Tod’s demise due to strangulation to his teacher’s death sequence which saw her computer explode, followed by a knife to the chest which was pushed in by a chair. We see Alex’s descent into madness as death becomes his nemesis and he escapes to a cabin in the woods with the help of his friend Clear (Ali Larter), who believed in him from the plane accident.
Final Destination 2 (2003)
This is one of those rare franchises where the sequel is better than the original. The second installment takes the ideas from the first film and builds on them. The film follows Kimberly Corman (A. J. Cook) who has a premonition of a major road accident on a motorway that sees a huge body count. Like the previous film, she freaks out and saves herself and others only to discover that the survivors are being stalked by death. There are so many iconic sequences in this film and it’s pretty much every death. From teenager Timmy being squished by a falling window pane to the creepy ladder through eyes fiasco with young millionaire, Evan. This sequel turns up the ante and the body count. It’s gruesome and brilliant and the acting and writing is a big improvement on the first installment. It also incorporates a new theory on evading death where life can counteract death and eliminate the whole list which is an interesting twist. We also see Ali Larter return as Clear and Tony Todd reprising his cameo. I don’t care what anyone says, I have a soft spot for this film and I think the deaths are great and imaginative.
Final Destination 3 (2006)
The most famous and recognisable installment comes with the third film which features the incredible rollercoaster premonition. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Wendy in a role that would solidify her position as the 21st century “scream queen”, Final Destination 3 has an abundance of imaginative sequences that have long tortured the minds of teens alike namely the sunbed death which sees two girls trapped and burned alive by their sunbeds where the temperature has been mysteriously tampered with. If I had to rank individual performances from the whole franchise, I would probably say by Winstead is by far and large the best of the bunch. It’s a really involved performance filled with guilt and sadness. This performance is what thrusted Winstead into the spotlight where she has managed to grow into a star. It’s nice to see that happen in the modern day the same way horror made stars of Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween) and Patricia Arquette (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors). It also features great support performances from Kris Lemche and Alexz Johnson as goth couple Ian and Erin who aren’t fazed by the concept of being chased by death.
The Final Destination (2009)
By far the worst installment, The Final Destination is a film that underestimated its audience and provides a film that is neither fun or memorable. The premonition takes place at a race track where a tyre flies off a speeding car and hell breaks loose. They shot this with 3D in mind and it shows. The studio was more bothered about making sure random objects and body parts are flying at you so much that they forgot to include any creativity in the process. It’s not a franchise known for its deep characterisations (nor do we expect it to be) but none of the characters are particularly likeable and they are all one note. The death sequences are predictable and elongated with some lasting way longer than necessary (the organs in the swimming pool drain being a prime example) and it soon becomes a tedious experience to watch. In a totally bizarre twist, this installment is by far the highest grossing in the series so far so Thankfully, the studios veered away from this aspect in the fifth installment.
Final Destination 5 (2011)
The fifth and latest installment of the franchise looks back to the original for inspiration and becomes more old school. After the critical failure of the fourth film, the studios reflected on what went wrong and made what is the “best” installment in the franchise. The script is actually tight and the characters are well-developed compared to the other films. The opening disaster is a road accident which sees a bridge collapse while a group of colleagues are on their way to a work retreat. It’s a simpler set-up than previous installments but the effects are brilliant and the deaths are just as gory. Like the fourth film, this was also released in 3D but it didn’t feel as though they were just catering for 3D and the use of it was interesting and minimal. It didn’t need the 3D to succeed but it did amplify the experience in the cinema. Following Sam Lawton (Nicholas D’Agosto) who has the premonition and the usual set-up of rescuing his friends. This installment has an array of theories and twists that are not overthought or complicated and works brilliantly as a franchise installment and also a standalone.
With all of this said and done, I am even more excited for the new installments to be released. I think that the Final Destination idea is really interesting and they’re great fun to watch. I’ll definitely be front and centre on release day with a box of popcorn in hand.
I think it’s a credit to the writers for the franchise that all but one of the sequels managed to surpass the original and even the film that is deemed the worst was the one that made the most at the box office. There is a huge audience for these films and it’s a shame that there’s been such a big gap between the last installment and now.
Here is my final ranking:
1) Final Destination 2 (2003)
2) Final Destination 5 (2011)
3) Final Destination 3 (2006)
4) Final Destination (2000)
5) The Final Destination (2009)
What do you think of the ranking? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below!