Doing a 180 on the 2000s: Ranking The “Final Destinations”
Oftentimes I feel like a not-real 90s kid because Devon Sawa did and does nothing for me (I’ve just lost half my subscribers). But perhaps that’s because going into this August, I had never seen a single film in the Final Destination franchise.
Then Lili and I watched all five films in a week and are forever changed for the better. Why?
“It’s how my mind works,” Lili said as I took a Trader Joe’s carnitas burrito out of the oven in-between writing this. By my count, there were at least 179 different ways I could’ve died in gruesome fashion during this 37 second interlude, most of them involving electrical outlets. (This is Us had to be inspired by the Final Destination franchise.)
As an anxious person, there’s something satisfying about being proven right: the world IS out to get you and all those pesky worst-case scenarios you spend sleepless nights worrying about? They all happen in Final Destination.
Sure, a homocidal maniac with their grisly weapon-of-choice is scary, but being stalked by DEATH ITSELF and being warned cryptically by Tony Todd beside the newly mangled body of your best friend? Well, these films aren’t as scary as that sounds, but I was shocked at how good these movies are at playing with tension, expectations and worshipping Rube Goldberg. Plus, who doesn’t like watching a bunch of idiot teenagers fruitlessly debate the order in which they’re going to die?
Onto the rankings:
5. The Final Destination (2009): “I was meant to see this movie!” — says someone about to die IN a movie theater. Never name your sequel “the final” unless you’re damn certain it’s going to be the end. Do we really believe Halloween Ends in a month? Not if it makes money, I don’t. This is the only film that doesn’t feature Tony Todd, showing a severe misunderstanding of a franchise that’s pretty easy to get. You need: pretty (bland) people, silly references to the number 180, familiar dangerous settings, CANDYMAN and that’s it.
4. Final Destination 2 (2003): “My ass is alive! It has been all day.” — says another someone about to die. This is the placement that will provoke the most ire and you’re right. This first sequel features a bigger budget, more creative kills and more boring actors than the original, but thankfully returns Ali Larter as Clear Rivers (lol). Question: Why do we allow “oversize” loads on highways? It’s in the fucking name. We’re literally admitting something is unsafe yet throwing them onto one of the most unsafe places driven by some of the most overworked/exhausted drivers, just because it’s faster/cheaper. I’m sure that’s the only example of our country prioritizing money over the livelihood of its citizens.
3. Final Destination 5 (2011): This is weirdly the one I knew the most about going in because of its trailer. Acupuncture and gymnastics hijinks had somehow stuck with me for 11 years. Is it because acupuncture has never been covered by my health insurance that I’ve never tried it or because of that trailer? Ask me in another 11 years. Actually watching the sequences in their entirety, it was the gymnastics scene that wins the award for most uncomfortable watch, perhaps in the entire series. I bumped this up a spot EITHER for its brilliant ending or because I once interviewed the man who was in the acupuncture sequence, P.J. Byrne.
2. Final Destination (2000): The flight (180!) that started it all. A huge installment in the greater DCU (Dawson’s Cinematic Universe) thanks to the presence of the aforementioned Ali Larter AND my preferred sex symbol, Kerr Smith.
1. Final Destination 3 (2006): The best cast in the series after the original (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Amanda Crew), this has a wondrously plotted opening on a rollercoaster. Freed from needing to jam Clear Rivers into the proceedings [unlike most slasher franchises, Final Destination doesn’t follow certain character(s)], it’s the pinnacle of what this franchise can do.
Final Destination is a glorious 2000s time capsule with 90s flair that made me feel surprised and grateful I’m still alive.
Like death itself, it sticks with you, your carry-on item until you have reached your final destination, because after you’ve watched this 00s franchise, nearly every movie feels like another ride in the FD universe.
If you want more pop culture and more Andy, subscribe to my newsletter, Wanderings.