‘Fun fear’ can help get through the tough times of the ongoing pandemic. So, to help you stay sane and inside, Your Intrepid Host is doing a series on 90s teen slasher movies.
It’s not about how great these movies are or what value they bring to the genre. It’s just to point and laugh in the face of death. You don’t have to have seen the selected movies, just read about what I had to endure for 92 minutes.
And what better movie to emphasize ‘fuck death!’ than Final Destination! Final Destination did come out in 2000, but I couldn’t skip it for this series. It’s just a little too silly to leave out.
Originally a draft X-Files script, Final Destination was [unnecessarily] stretched into a feature film. It was supposed to be an ‘anti-slasher’ movie, as it has no physical villain doling out violent deaths. A neat twist on the genre to be sure, but one that struggles to fill a full movie. Death is an intangible force of nature, forced to have a ‘motive’ like the butler in a mansion murder mystery. It gets crazy, it gets dumb. Let’s delve into Death’s Design! (Die-sign, rather!)
The credits roll as the camera moseys through a teenager’s room, focusing on creepy objects. A hanging skeleton doll, creepy monkey puppets, etc. This opening sequence is the first hint that the filmmakers are trying a little too hard. We go from kinda-spooky objects (the dolls, a whirling steel fan) to the cover of ‘Death of a Salesman’.
Oh, come on. I am not having nightmares about Willy Loman, I promise you. ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ is also shown for a half second—should I be dreading someone getting taken prisoner by tiny Lilliputians?
The as-yet unseen teenager grabs a passport, a plane ticket to Paris, and a Paris guidebook. The guidebook flips open to historic sketches of the guillotine in its heyday. Get It? Because death?
We transition to pages of a book with ‘EVIL’ in big letters. Which is irrelevant—the whole point is that there is no villain, no tangible evil entity. It’s just a lazy way of telling the audience ‘Be Unsettled!’
[Sidebar—the musical score in this movie is of higher quality than many films of a similar ilk. The composer was the incredible, creative Shirley Walker. She has a special place in my heart for her excellent music in the Batman Animated Series of the early 90s.]
We are introduced to our protagonist, Alex. He’s getting ready for his high school French class’s upcoming trip to Paris.
His parents stop into his room to wish him well. His mom notices that there’s still an the old luggage tag on Alex’s suitcase. Alex explains that he has a little superstition: the old luggage tag must stay on because the last flight the suitcase was on didn’t crash. For luck. Or something.
His mom rolls her eyes and tears off the tag. She thereby DOOMS hundreds of people to a grisly demise! Because technically, from this instant on, the cold shadow/ominous wind of death stalks Alex. Way to go, Mom.
Alex’s dad says to his son, “Live it up, Alex. You got your whole life ahead of you.” And if you listen closely, you can hear the Cryptkeeper cackling in the background.
Later that night, we see a strange wind (Death Breath is how I am going to label this feature) enter Alex’s room. The Death Breath cruises through the teen’s room and over his body like a creepy uncle. Alex is briefly awoken and sees his digital clock briefly glitch from 1:00 to 1:80. The flight to Paris tomorrow is Flight 180. Spooooky.
The next day, we see the high school French class gathering at JFK for their trip. We meet our other soon-to-be dead meat—I mean, protagonists.
First, there’s the Couple You Love to See Die. Carter is the letter-jacket wearing guy with severe anger issues. Terry is his ‘I don’t know why I put up with this asshole but at least the mall will fill the void in my soul’ girlfriend.
They knock over ‘class clown’ Billy Hitchcock. He is played by (shudder) Seann William Scott, complete with hockey jersey—which was all Seann William Scott was allowed until 2009. Fortunately, he only has a dozen lines in the whole movie.
We also meet ‘I’m the sad 90s artist girl who’s only sin is being a brunette’, Clear. That’s right. Clear. It is pronounced like ‘Claire’ throughout the movie. I guess stupid name is supposed to signal ‘unique and quirky’. She is played by Ali Larter, who manages to make a ‘meh’ character into someone likable—when she gets pissed off.
Alex arrives at the airport with his friends, brothers Tod and George. The brothers’ dad drops them off, saying to Alex, “Hey, take care of them.”
And the Cryptkeeper appears in the background, rubbing his hands together giddily.
The students are escorted through the airport by their two teachers, Mr. Marnau and Ms. Lewton. Alex is hassled by a Hari Krishna, who tells him: “Death is not the end.”
DEAAAATH. DEATH. Deathy-death-death!
Ms. Lewton tells the Hari Krishna to ‘fuck off.’ This is supposed to make her look sassy.
Alex gets his bag checked. As his new luggage tag is affixed, the camera focuses on the label: ‘Final Destination.’ GET IT? Do ya GET IT yet, audience?
The attendant points out that the departure time (9:25) matches Alex’s birthday (September 25th). Cool, do you make random observations for all passengers, ma’am? Can I breeze through the pre-9/11 half-assed security in peace, please?
The camera cuts to the departures board and hyper-focuses on the word ‘Terminal’. I KNOW movie. I KNOW I am in an airport, okay?
We cut to Clear reading a book about Paris. She flips onto a page featuring the mangled remains of the car Princess Diana perished in. Hey, did you know that people die in Paris, guys? Unlike anywhere else in the world?
Alex comes to the waiting area and is soon joined by his buddy Tod, who declares: “Let’s go take a shit.”
Tod makes a speech about how it’s best to avoid pooping on long flights. It’s stupid. I don’t know why the script went in this direction. Is this when the screenwriters started rocking the gange to get through this thing?
We cut to the guys taking a shit.
Yep: this happens. Okay movie, these convoluted deaths better be worth it.
John Denver starts playing on the airport sound system. Alex says out loud: “John Denver died in a place crash.”
Because we just don’t GET IT yet.
There is a fine line between building dread and getting obnoxiously ‘wink-wink nudge-nudge.’ 10 minutes in, and Final Destination has blasted through that line with strobe lights and vuvuzulas blaring.
The plane begins boarding. Alex notes some kind of mark on the side of the plane. It’s supposed to be Ominous. But it could be a blotch of paint, some rust, or bird poop. Show me a gremlin has taken a bite out of the wing, and I’ll be unsettled, movie.
As they board, George sees a crying baby. He declares it a good sign. “It’d be a fucked up God to take down this plane.”
I dunno—about 4 hours into an 8 hour flight with a screaming baby, I’d be asking God to take us the hell down.
Then George sees that there is a passenger with cerebral palsy on oxygen. He emphasizes: “A really fucked up God.”
Sure, let’s throw a person with a disability into this film just for a weak punchline. Cool beans.
Alex’s seat is in the 25th row (9:25 flight, birthday September 25th, etc). Because the folks who put this movie together are uber nerds, there are supposed Easter eggs sprinkled all over this film with different number games. If I was going to try to track all of them, this movie would never end, and that’s a fate worse than death.
Alex gets asked to switch seats by two pretty girls and he agrees. Tod, who would’ve been able to sit next to one of the pretty girls, is put out. He calls Alex a ‘F*g.’
Tod is placed at the very tippy tip top of the ‘Die Soon and Horribly Please’ list.
Alex gets in his new seat and notices that the tray table is shitty. Of course. It’s practically an FAA requirement that 1 in 3 tray tables don’t work. But no, Alex decides that this is A Sign!
Alex spots the safety guide in his seatback, an actual FAA requirement—but no, it is also A Sign! He gets increasingly anxious as the plane begins takeoff.
Meanwhile, French teacher Mr. Marnau has the students do the wave. Woooooooo!
All other passengers are gnashing their teeth, begging for death.
Suddenly, there’s rattling. Turbulance picks up. A flight attendant lazily mouths to the passengers, “It’s okay.”
Well, no, it is not okay because moments later the plane TEARS THE FUCK OPEN.
The plane plummets, blood spatters, sparks fly. The passengers are swallowed by a fiery explosion.
Alex snaps awake, again being asked by the pretty girls about switching seats. We realize that the plane crash sequence was a dream/vision. Alex (understandably) starts to flip the fuck out. He screams, “The fucking plane’s gonna explode!”
And we know immediately this is a pre-9/11 movie, because an air marshal doesn’t tackle his skinny ass immediately. Instead there is a mild chiding of “Not funny, bro.”
The flight attendant threatens, “We will remove you from this aircraft.” Which isn’t much of a threat for Alex, who wants nothing BUT to be taken off this condemned sky tube.
Letter-jacket-wearing-asshole Carter decides to address the chaotic situation by kicking Alex’s ass right there in the aisle. I will never tire of the ‘Mr. Stability’ trope of teen slashers. It is just this insane avatar of toxic masculinity that no one questions.
The co-pilot arrives just in time to not stop Carter from sucker-punching Alex. In the ensuing mayhem, Alex, Carter, Terry, and Hitchcock get kicked off the plane. Tod follows to see WTF is going on, leaving his brother George on the plane. Clear follows due to quirky-brunette-artist girl intuition.
Police arrive and no one is immediately tased—again a clear sign of the quaint pre-9/11 days we are witnessing. Carter keeps trying to fight Alex and isn’t even given a satisfying nightstick to the gut.
Teachers Mr. Marnau and Ms. Lewton hash out who will go on the current Paris flight and who will accompany the ne’er do wells on a later flight.
A later flight? The fuck you mean a later flight? They still get to go to Paris?! What happened to ‘life lessons’? What happened to discipline? What happened to “hey when you start punching fellow students on a plane, you don’t get to go to Paris anymore”?!
Ms. Lewton insists that Mr. Marnau take the first flight because he knows ‘the whole French thing’. …if Ms. Lewton doesn’t even speak French, why is she going on this trip?
Things start to settle down, Mr. Marnau re-boards the plane, and the flight starts to take off.
Alex tells everyone about his premonition to explain his freak-out. There are sarcastic comments, attempts to soothe. Carter AGAIN decides it’s time to rumble.
In the scuffle, the camera cuts to a wide shot to reveal Flight 180 taking off—and exploding in an orgy of flame.
Confirmed: It IS a real fucked-up God.
We cut to 30 minutes later. The survivors are in some conference room at the airport. Everyone sits in awkward silence, occasionally sending weirded-out glances toward Alex.
Alex breaks the silence, saying, “You’re looking at me as if I caused this.”
Well, I may be coming at this from a post-9/11 perspective, but: um, yeah bro. It’s like this: if you walk past a bunch of cars and loudly proclaim “I think something real bad is gonna happen here!” And the next morning, all the cars have large throbbing dicks spray-painted on them? People are not gonna think you’re psychic. They’ll think you had something to do with it.
Clear comes to Alex’s defense with: “He’s not a witch.”
It’s all good, ya’ll. Alex didn’t turn anyone into a newt! But most people are not thinking that Alex has a pointy hat and broomstick stashed in his luggage. They’re going to assume that he’s a domestic terrorist.
Folks from the National Transportation Safety Board come in to debrief the survivors. They all look and sound pretty bored, given that a jumbo jet just went all Hadouken over JFK.
Again, we are clearly in a pre-9/11 world, because no one is black-bagged off to a dark site to be interrogated. Instead, the survivors are offered medical attention and spiritual counseling.
A pair of FBI agents arrive, and I start to feel great nerd disappointment. This is where Mulder and Scully would’ve stepped in. We could’ve had a nice crisp 43-minute X-Files episode. Instead, we’re stuck in a teen drama with a too-into-itself script stretched to capacity like Aunt Mabel’s elastic pants from 1994.
The survivors are interviewed individually. Alex explains his premonition to the FBI, which does nothing to make him look not-suspicious.
Parents soon arrive to take the teens home. No one comes to embrace Clear and express happiness for her being alive. So that’s a bummer. Alex gets a mildly accusing look from Tod and George’s dad.
Alex gets to just go home. Yep, just go home an hour after he loudly proclaimed a plane would crash and then the plane crashed.
No. No way. This was at least post-Timothy McVeigh. Alex would be asked a lot more questions for a lot longer. But oh well, it’s just 237 lost souls in a blazing inferno. Let the kid go off to who-knows-where!
Back at home, Alex collapses into sobs. And it’s the type of human, emotional scene we don’t often get in movies of this ‘caliber.’ Yet as Alex cries over this traumatic event, his dad doesn’t hug him. So toxic masculinity continues to reign supreme, I suppose.
Later, the family is gathered in the living room, watching the unfolding news coverage about the crash.
Note A: Are you fucking kidding me? “Hey, for the next 48 hours, we are a no-news house. We are a no-TV house.” Now is not the time to dig further into this tragedy.
Note B: The parents are fast asleep on the couch—because my kid almost dying in a place crash would put me right to sleep.
Alex is left staring at the footage alone, in the dark, every nerve in his body stiff with fear and guilt. Good job, parents!
We cut to 39 days later where a memorial service is being held at the high school. Ms. Lewton is on stage, openly sobbing. A speaker states that 39 days have passed since the 39 loved ones of Mt Abrahamson High School were lost. …well the news report said 40, so who’s the unlucky unloved one from Mt Abrahamson High?
The speaker continues with a Bible verse, “Man no more knows his own time than the fish taken in the fatal net.”
NO. NO, FISHPORT! Haunt me no longer!
The memorial statue is then revealed: a huge block of marble with a large iron eagle on top. I dunno…maybe avoid any flying-related symbols for this?
Alex is at the memorial and is not having a fun time. There’s this random girl sitting near him who is staring at him like he’s a domestic terrorist—not an unfair assumption at this point. Tod and George’s dad looks back at Alex with a profound guilt-glare. The FBI agents are also there, their eyes boring into the back of Alex’s skull. They practically hiss at him “Confess! Con-fess!”
Alex’s day just keeps getting better, as he winds up next to Carter in line to drop roses onto the memorial statue. Carter decides it is, once again, time to rumble. Yeah, just start a fight in the memorial rose line. Super appropriate.
Carter declares that he will be living life to the fullest from now on.
Alex retorts, “Why don’t you stay off the JD then, huh?”
I assume that is supposed to be short for Jack Daniels. But for some reason, the script didn’t spell that out. So I choose to believe that Carter is addicted to Jimmy Dean’s sausage.
Carter then announces: “I’m NEVER gonna die!”
Does Carter think himself immortal now? That Death gets one shot, and if it misses, you never die? That that’s how that works? Saying something supremely stupid is not the same as being defiant, Carter.
Billy Hitchcock Scott appears in a brown sweater that just bothers me. It looks like what you wear to grandma’s for thanksgiving, not grandma’s funeral. Seann William Scott has a good bit here, bothering Alex for more predictions. It’s a well-played scene with a good dose of dark humor.
Alex tries to approach Ms. Lewton, but she snarls at him through tears, “Don’t talk to me. You scare the hell out of me.” Reasonable, since, again, Alex could totally be a mad bomber. Or a witch.
Alex and Tod chat briefly. Tod’s dad has forbidden him to speak to Alex. …but Tod has defied death. What could his dad threaten him with? What punishment could possibly intimidate Tod at this point? No level of grounding or ‘no TV for you!’ will measure up.
Tod assures Alex that they’ll hang out again when his dad “gets over this whole thing.” You know—gets over this whole ‘tragic death of his son’ thing. Sure. Give it a week. It’ll all smooth over.
Clear gives Alex her rose and thanks him for her still being alive. You can almost hear the script saying “Excuse me, just gonna shoehorn this romantic subplot in here….”
Later, Tod is at home in his bathroom. He takes a poop. Ya know, movie, I don’t need to see this again. I really don’t. What is your fixation with Tod taking a poop, movie? It’s really distracting from the whole doom and gloom vibe.
And now we begin the first Rube Goldberg death sequence.
Trying to follow these things for the purposes of this review was a nightmare. Each death sequence takes a total of ~1 minute of film, but involves 172 steps. I admit, it’s fun to envision the grim reaper in his garage with some graphing paper, chuckling to himself as he puts these die-agrams together.
Here is Tod’s death sequence:
1) The bathroom window is open to allow the entrance of the Death Breath.
2) The toilet’s water tank starts to leak onto the tile floor.
3) Tod goes about shaving his non-existent stubble.
4) The puddle on the floor continues to grow—menacingly!
5) Tod decides he needs some tunes while snipping his nose hairs and plugs in his boombox.
6) John Denver comes over the speakers. Spooooky! Because John Denver died in a plane crash AND a bathroom!
7) Tod decides it’s shower time. But the shower has a retractable clothesline currently being used to hang-dry some clothes.
8) While he’s taking down the clothesline, Tod slips in the puddle from the toilet.
9) As he falls, the clothesline wraps around his throat.
10) Tod tries to stand, but a spilled shampoo bottle makes the tub too slippery for him to regain his footing.
11) Tod strangles to death.
12) Here is where things get stupid: the puddle recedes back into the plumbing.
As if death is staging a cover-up? Why? It’s stupid. The scriptwriters agreed, because this sort of ‘behavior’ doesn’t repeat in future death sequences.
If you think THAT is too forced, here is the sequence for how Alex is clued in that Tod is in danger:
1) Alex is in his room, deep into researching plane crashes. ALEX: this is not helping your case for having nothing to do with a plane crash.
2) After a bit of reading on fiery disasters, Alex reaches for a Penthouse. Alex, buddy, that transition makes this so much worse.
3) Alex reaches for either a sock or lube and—thank Death himself—is interrupted by a random owl flying to his room. ‘Cause sure.
4) Alex throws a magazine at the owl—which is a real dick move. Just sit and be amazed by nature for a hot second, you sociopath.
5) The magazine gets caught in his room fan and rips up, scattering torn pages.
6) A piece of torn paper reading ‘Tod’ (from ‘Today’) floats onto Alex’s lap.
Ya know for a force supposedly against people cheating its plans, Death is putting equal creative hours into warning people about its plans. I bet Death would run a killer D&D campaign.
Knowing Tod is in mortal peril, Alex strolls over to Tod’s house. Seriously, not even a ‘crossing the crosswalk with 5 seconds left on the timer’ jog, Alex?
But Alex already sees emergency crews on the scene. The FBI agents are also there. They eye Alex suspiciously—rightfully so, as this kid is suspicious as F.
Tod is rolled out in a body bag. His father soon follows and spots Alex. He accuses Alex of wracking Tod with guilt, causing him to die by suicide. Because the bathroom scene is just too contrived to have not been made by human hands. Who wouldn’t snip their nose hairs before calling it quits?
Did Death forge a suicide note too? ‘Definitely wasn’t killed in an overly-complicated series of random events because Death, an intangible universal phenomenon, is pissy about me not dying in that plane crash. Definitely not. That would be dumb!’
The next day, Alex goes to Clear’s house to discuss Tod’s death. He finds her welding in her driveway. Like ya do. Clear reveals that she has done an abstract metal sculpture of Alex. This is…flattering? Creepy? Inappropriate?
She explains, “It’s how you make me feel, Alex.” Inappropriate, then.
Clear says that the two of them have some kind of feel bond. She must say ‘feel’ or ‘feelings’ half a dozen times—it’s just a vague notion that the two of them have some kind of metaphysical connection. The Romantic Subplot Shoehorn continues its diligent work.
Alex says he wishes he could see Tod again. To which Clear creepily says, “Then let’s go see him.”
So of course: they break into the funeral home where Tod is being kept.
…This is gonna look real bad when they tell your story on Dateline, Alex.
They go down into the embalming room. Not the place with plush, abusively priced coffins where things are quiet, peaceful, and clean. NOPE. They go to where they wire your jaw shut, glue your eyes closed, and fill you up with formaldehyde. Yeah. Definitely the best place to make peace with Tod’s violent passing.
Alex and Clear stand over Tod’s body, which still shows deep purple marks from the clothesline. Again, how is this helping Alex grieve?
And here at the 43 min mark is where, if/when watching with others, a horror nut like me starts excitedly telling everyone to shush. “Sssh. Ssh. Watch this. Watch this. Shut up. Shut UP, Barry, WATCH!”
The kids are interrupted by the mortician, played by Tony Todd. Which for a normal person, means absolutely nothing. Tony Todd is one of the rare horror character actors of color. As the actor who played Candyman, Tony Todd is a member of the Horror Actor Trinity (Robert Englund aka Freddy Krueger and Brad Dourif aka Chucky the Doll being the other two sacred members). Todd is particularly notable for his incredible, hypnotic voice. Which is used to great effect in this brief scene.
The mortician doesn’t look especially creepy. He’s wearing suspenders and a tie. It’s just another day at the office for him, just a working stiff urning his business.
He warns the teens, “Ssssh. You’ll wake the dead.” Har Har. And they say comedy is dead.
The mortician reveals that the evidence on Tod’s body shows that his death was an accident. So the guy who runs the funeral home is more observant than the coroner? I guess autopsies are a dying art.
The mortician goes on: “In death, there are no accidents. No coincidences. No mishaps.” But there is, apparently, a thesaurus.
According to the mortician, for each person, Death has a ‘sadistic design leading to the grave.’ Okay, so the natural phenomena of death has enough of a personality to be ‘sadistic’?
The mortician die-vulges that the risk of cheating death is to ‘incite a fury.’ I do like this set up. It has a folklore feel, fitting in with ancient tales about trying to outwit death with great consequences.
See, the important part of this scene is not Tony Todd (sadly). It’s to provide an explanation for the contrived death scenes. After all, Death could just strike the survivors down with lightning or an aneurysm.
But in this story, if you get out of your planned fate, Death gets mad and tries to punish you with a more agonizing demise. It’s a creative way to get out of the corner the script painted itself into. If your characters were already fated to die, the ONLY way to raise the stakes is to threaten a worse death than what was already in store.
But spoiler: this doesn’t really pay off as the writers quickly run out of gas for mouse-trap-esque deaths.
By not dying in the plane crash, Death has crafted a ‘new design’ for how the survivors of Flight 180 will die. But Death will give omens to reveal when it’s coming. Again: if Death is so furious and so clever, why give die-rections for how to defeat it?
“Now you have to figure out how and when it’s coming back to you.” Thanks for just laying out the plot so plainly, script.
After wrapping up his die-alogue, the very calm mortician suddenly, madly declares: “And you don’t even wanna fuck with that mack daddy!” He yanks tubing out of Tod’s corpse and cackles as Alex and Clear cringe in nauseous horror.
As the kids flee, the mortician purrs, “I’ll see you soon.”
I mean: it’s just the best! I love it, I love it so much!
But disappointingly, we won’t be seeing the mortician soon. See this scene is great, but goes against the movie’s concept that there is no villain in this movie. The mortician is clearly set up to be some kind of death stand-in, or at least in cahoots. He delivers exposition, he creeps out the kids, he magically knows Alex’s name, etc. But he doesn’t reappear. He only returns to the franchise in Final Destination 5. Why? I mean I love Tony Todd, but I’m sure he was available!
After that terrifying experience, Alex and Clear de-compose—I mean, decompress at a coffee shop. Because sure, that’s what anyone would do, not curling up in a corner sobbing, trying to understand what the hell ‘mack daddy’ means.
Alex decides to try and decode Death’s ‘design.’ He insists that if he opens up to Death’s signs, he can continue to beat the new designs. But again: if Death is so invested in its super cool way of getting you, why would it offer the lifeline (ha ha) of giving hints?!
Clear replies to all of this: “I don’t understand.” No one does, Clear. No one does.
She points out that you could find supposed death omens anywhere you want to—right, because death is a constant force of nature. You’d have a better chance at trying to stop the sun from rising (blow it up; move the Earth out of its orbit with rockets; make a giant wall in space out of trash; tribbles, etc.).
Suddenly, Alex sees the reflection of a passing bus—but no actual bus goes by.
Meanwhile, Carter and Terry drive by, the car playing NIN with the lyrics: “Pictures in my head of the final destination.” You are seen, movie. You are seen, and you are heard. But it’s a Bit Much.
Carter, aka Mr. Stability, whips the car around because he hears the Mortal Kombat theme in his own mind and it’s time to fight Alex again. Hitchcock happens to be passing by on his bike and Carter swipes him, nearly causing 3 vehicular homicides.
Why is Death after Carter? I would think they’d get along real swell.
Ms. Lewton happens to come out of the café, and suddenly all of the Flight 180 survivors are in the same place and intensely uncomfortable. As they start to bicker, Terry decides she is Over It! She declares, “I will not let this plane crash be the most important thing in my life!”
…well, why not? It has literally defined you having a life right now, at this very moment.
She then shouts, “You can just drop fucking dead!”
Oh. Oh dear.
Instantly, Terry is taken out by a bus. It’s a jump scare but also hilarious. Everyone gets spattered with her blood. The bus doesn’t even stop, because Derek the Bus Driver has Places To Be, damn it. But where is the sadism there? Or, when it comes down to it, does Death favor irony over all else?
Later, Alex is chilling at home with an alka seltzer, which is the lamest response to trauma I have ever seen. Give the kid a shot of whiskey and a Marlboro, for heaven’s sake.
Clear calls and we see that she is also partaking in an alka seltzer. I guess this is supposed to further represent their spiritual bond. Whatever. Laaaaaame.
Alex doesn’t pick up the phone, focusing on a news report coming on the TV. The report details the cause and sequence of mechanical failures of Flight 180’s crash. Using images from the report, Alex makes a map of how the crash occurred vs where the survivors were supposed to be sitting. From there, he can discern what order they should have died in—it’s Death’s Hit List in order.
He realizes that Ms. Lewton is next!
We cut to Ms Lewton’s home, where she’s on the phone expressing her survivor’s guilt. “Looking at my own front yard makes me feel nothing but fear.”
And there is Alex, heroically lurking at the end of her driveway like a goddamn creep.
Alex stalks around Lewton’s car, checking to see if Death is loosening lug-nuts or something. Naturally, Ms. Lewton calls the FBI and they pick him up for being suspicious as fuck.
With Alex being interrogated by the FBI, we begin Ms. Lewton’s Rube Goldberg sequence. It’s a doozy:
1) An ominous—and impossible—wind (Death Breath) flits through a closed window at Ms. Lewton’s.
2) Ms Lewton puts on a record: John Denver. Because he died in a plane crash, a bathroom, AND in a kitchen.
3) She puts a kettle on her gas stove.
4) She turns on the gas stove.
5) She sets aside a mug and tea bag, filling it up when the kettle goes off.
6) Suddenly—she screams and jerks, throwing the hot water onto the floor. Did she see a spider? No: she noticed the mug has the high school mascot on it. This is supposed to be some kind of PTSD reaction. But that makes no sense because she picked the mug out. It didn’t pounce onto the counter like a tiger.
7) Ms. Lewton uses a cloth to wipe up the water and leaves it draped over her knifeblock to dry.
8) With that, Ms. Lewton decides that some vodka is in order instead—now we’re talkin!
9) She uses the same mug she was going to use for tea, pouring ice cold vodka into it.
10) The hot water + cold vodka = a crack in the mug. Vodka starts to leak out.
11) She leaves the vodka bottle by the stove.
12) Ms. Lewton continues to unknowingly drip vodka as she goes over to her computer.
13) She leans over her computer to turn it on, leaking vodka onto it.
14) The vodka drips into the computer’s wiring, causing sparks.
[Quick Break with this PSA: If your computer starts smoking, do not lean over it to investigate further.
15) Ms. Lewton leans over the computer to investigate further and it goes KABLOOIE!
16) A shard of the shattered computer monitor strikes Ms. Lewton’s throat.
17) The wound generously spurts blood and Ms. Lewton slips on her own blood.
18) Ms. Lewton tries to do…something.
19) Sparks from the computer strike the trail of vodka, setting it alight, eventually trailing up to the kitchen counter.
20) The vodka bottle ‘splodes.
21) Everything is on fire.
22) Crawling along the floor, Ms. Lewton searches for something to stem the bleeding in her neck.
23) She reaches up for that dishcloth she put on top of the knife block earlier.
24) Can you believe we’re still not done with this sequence yet?
25) As Ms. Lewton pulls the cloth down, she also topples the knife block.
26) The absolute biggest knife I have ever seen lodges into her chest.
Meanwhile, Alex is all annoyed that the FBI won’t just let him lurk around his teacher’s property. He explains that he’s seeing a pattern. So is the FBI, Alex. So is the FBI.
“I saved 6 lives!” Alex protests. No you didn’t, you punk. Technically the co-pilot who kicked you off the plane saved 6 lives.
Alex continues to insist he’s innocent of any wrongdoing. “I’m not going Dahmer on you guys.”
*Fweep!* True Crime Whistle! Flagged for too-tangential a serial killer comparison!
And Alex is just…let go again because the FBI, technically, has nothing on him. He walks home, but sees a man burning leaves. Alex interprets this as A Sign and runs to Ms. Lewton’s place. He sees her home is on fire and busts in.
27) Alex the Idiot sees Ms. Lewton on the floor—not dead but in mortal peril.
28) Alex does NOT call 911. But he does get his fingerprints all over that knife as he tries to help Ms. Lewton.
29) There is another explosion from the stove, knocking over a nearby kitchen chair.
30) The chair falls onto the knife, driving it further into Ms. Lewton, FINALLY finishing her off.
Startled, Alex grabs the knife and jumps to his feet. It creates this image of him, a supposedly innocent man, standing over a slain body, bloody blade in hand, surrounded by flame. I can’t tell if this is supposed to be funny, but I find it pretty funny.
Anyhoo, Alex flees the house but leaves a shoeprint in Ms Lewton’s blood. D’Oh!
As Alex runs to safety, Billy Hitchcock appears, again passing by on his bike. Hmm, is Seann William Scott actually Death in disguise? Is he Tony Todd’s boss? What a great twist that would be!
A gas explosion rocks the house in a blaze of contrivance. Alex takes off.
Billy aptly sums up: “Dude.”
Later, Clear, Carter and Hitchcock meet at the memorial. Carter decides he’ll be a real asshole and use a switchblade to carve Terry’s name into the memorial. What a dick.
The trio go to find Alex, as he is hiding from the police but the only one who knows who’s next on Death’s Hit List. They find him at the site of the Flight 180 crash. SERIOUSLY? Alex, have you ever heard of ‘returning to the scene of the crime’?! Come on man, help you help you, know what I’m saying?
Clear and Alex spend a tender moment on the beach, overlooking where 237 people perished in a massive fireball of agony and mangled metal. Aw, so sweet.
The teens pile into Carter’s car. As they drive, Carter realizes he’s next on the Death List and freaks out. He starts driving like a maniac. Again, why aren’t he and Death total bros?
Clear, fully fed up with Carter’s shenanigans, orders him to stop the car. In a classic ‘very poor choice of words’ moment, Carter stops the car on train tracks. And a train is approaching. Billy, Clear, and Alex bail while Carter stubbornly remains in the car.
Clear and Alex are better people than I am, because they don’t leave Carter to his shitty immature death stunt. Instead, they convince him not to go out like this. A convinced Carter states, “It ain’t my time.”
But now he can’t start the car. And the doors are stuck. And the seatbelt is also stuck. And maybe, I dunno, Carter and his death-car should go out together.
Alex helps Carter escape at the last second. I was at least satisfied to note, in a brief shot, that Carter has pissed himself. Good.
Much like Derek the Bus Driver, Dominic the Train Engineer has no time for your shit either. After sending a plume of fiery debris into the night, the train doesn’t even hit the brakes.
Hitchcock starts panicking. He screams, “You’re next, Carter! And I’m staying the fuck away from you!”
A jagged piece of debris from the car (1) gets caught by a hanging chain on the train (2) sending the jagged piece of metal flying into the air (3), slicing off Hitchcock’s head. Again, proof that Death prefers irony over Ikea-level fatal designs.
Alex realizes that each time one of them beats Death’s new design for them, it will skip to the next person in sequence. He needs to plan his next move quickly, as he is next in the sequence, followed by Clear.
Still suspected of being a real creep if not a murderer/terrorist, Clear hides Alex in her family cabin.
Later, we see that Alex has done his darnedest to death-proof the cabin. It’s like the opposite of Home Alone.
Alex, holed up in this boarded-up cabin, looking paranoid and low on sleep, is still doing a really bad job of not looking like Unabomber-Lite.
And in spite of putting corks on nails, Alex is doing a poor job of protecting himself—he still has an open wound from the train/car wreck on his shoulder. Hello, staph infection? Come on, bro! Help you help you!
Alex finds a rusty fish hook on the floor, holding it up accusingly to the sky. “Tetanus.” Damn it, stole my joke!
Alex starts balling up newspapers and sees an article about the plane crash. He realizes he got the seating sequence wrong—and Clear is next! As Alex is leaving the cabin to find Clear, the cops show up to get him. He stealthily evades them via canoe.
Yep. Seriously. Evasion by canoe
Back at Clear’s place, Death is just getting started:
1) A storm blows in. Lightning strikes a powerline connected to her house.
2) Her dog is outside, threatened by the fallen powerline.
3) Clear goes outside to rescue her dog.
4) The powerline knocks over a laundry tree (or whatever it’s called).
5) The laundry tree strikes an above ground pool, causing it to leak all over the driveway.
Clear leaps onto a wooden trestle on the side of the house to escape the electrified water. She climbs into the house, the downed powerline roaring after her.
6) The livewire whips into the house after Clear, somehow setting off every electrical device in the house in explosions of sparks.
7) Clear runs into her garage and gets in her car. Because I guess we’re gonna out-drive electricity?
8) But the garage door won’t open.
9) The powerline starts breaking down the garage door to get at her. Yeah, I just wrote that sentence.
10) Clear backs out through the garage door. 11) But a beam falls, impaling the car and preventing her escape.
12) In the commotion, a bottle of turpentine spills over.
Meanwhile, Alex runs from the police through the woods. Death, having shruggy-shrugged the sequence part of his design, stalks Alex via sharp sticks and mud. Yeah, it makes no sense even with the nonsensical established rules. Lightning strikes a tree, which falls onto Alex, pinning him in a puddle. He nearly drowns—but doesn’t.
Alex arrives at Clear’s just as the powerline strikes the car, killing the battery (13). Clear can’t get out, only the rubber tires protecting her from getting shocked.
Alex uses a shovel to knock the livewire away, but it knocks over a tank of the gas Clear uses in her welding (14). This is what you get for your ‘art’! The tank lodges under the car (15). The turpentine finally lights (16), threatening to light the gas tank and setting off an explosion with Clear trapped.
Alex tells Clear he’s going to sacrifice himself to save her. He grabs the powerline, Clear escapes the car, the car explodes, and Alex is thrown back several feet.
The FBI finally arrives on scene. The agents and Clear find Alex in the debris, not breathing. The agents start performing CPR.
We see a shot of a white tunnel…which is actually a walkway to a place… and it’s revealed to be a plane landing in Paris, 6 months later. With no dramatic reveal, we see Carter, Clear, and Alex have safely landed.
6 months, guys? Really? 6 months, after all that pain and tragedy before ya’ll decided it was time to not just get on a plane but repeat the trip that nearly killed you? Okay. You wanna dance in front of fate and say ‘COME AT ME, BRO’, ya’ll go ahead.
Later, they drink beer at a Parisian café by moonlight. So romantic. Maybe they have a ‘we cheated death’ celebratory threesome planned?
They toast to Terry, to Tod—but not to Billy. Poor Billy!
Alex is still bothered about his interpretation of Death’s design, convinced he’s missing something. He points out that Death should still be after him because ‘no one intervened’ to save him when he was struck by the powerline. UM. The fuck you think CPR is?! It’s the DEFINITION of a death intervention, Alex!
Carter (who has become more humane but is still shit) teases that Alex is still at the top of Death’s hit list.
A street musician playing guitar starts playing John Denver.
DUN DUN DUN
Alex freaks out and tries to distance himself from the group. Clear sees a reflection of a bus, but no actual bus is passing. Interpreting it as A Sign, Clear warns Alex.
He dodges an actual passing bus. The bus swerves to avoid Alex and hits a light pole. The light pole flips an incredible (and impossible) 180 degrees, knocking down a huge neon sign. The sign swings down to take out Alex. Carter (completely out of character) pushes him down, saving him.
Carter jumps up, anxious. “Who’s next?!”
And because physics: we see the sign swinging back, about to annihilate Carter.
Are you exhausted? I’m exhausted. That was a 1.5 hrs of my life that felt like 15 hours. It was almost the death of me. Final Destination is fun, but also a little tomb-much. With so many dead bodies, I expected a better plot. Hope you enjoyed the commentary, as I remain deadicated to entertaining you, Dear Reader!
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I was researching what the “JD” meant in the line where Alex tells the jock to stay away from the JD and I came across this absolute gem of a bog. I laughed so hard. Thank you for this narrative.