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Director and co-writer James Wong took his first time up to bat as a Motion Picture director - AND KNOCKED THE BALL RIGHT OUT OF THE PARK!
FINAL DESTINATION ROCKS I am wildly happy to tell you.
How much does it rock?Frequent visitors here will know that I watch one hell of a lot of horror movies. I've seen nearly every movie reviewed on this site and plenty more that I haven't got around to reviewing. So let me tell you a few things, despite my fondness for Horror movies, the only ones that ever made me jump out of my seat were JAWS and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Got it?
And get this: part of my life story includes falling down a cliff face in a cave, nearly being buried in a cave in, having a shark chomp at my head from about a foot away, I've been shot and stabbed. I've walked away from major car accidents and had my ship explode while I was on it! I've been oh-so-very close to death on a number of occasions. Perhaps that gave me a unique perspective on this movie, I can't say. But there were several scenes in this movie that made me jump, and one that made me jump and shout out loud "WHOA!"
I was not alone.
Everyone in the theater jumped, yelled, shouted, and screamed.
That's why James Wong is the man. He is the dude! WONG ROCKS!
He has only directed one episode of THE X-FILES [TV] and is also that show's co-executive producer/consultant. In fact, FINAL DESTINATION is the second film Wong has ever directed in his whole career.
Based on the story by Jeffery Reddick and co-written by Reddick and Glenn Morgan, this is a movie by a some guys with few credits but a lot of heart.
FINAL DESTINATION stars Devon Sawa (who starred in 1999's shamefully overlooked IDLE HANDS), as Alex Browning. His French class is going on a summer field trip to France but, for the whole day, Alex starts noticing odd omens: Weird coincidences and suspicious warning signs. It finally hits Alex that the 747 Jumbo jet that he is on is doomed, and he freaks out as he tries to get off the plane, the ruckus causing several of his classmates to be unfairly accused as being part of Alex's problem. As Alex is thrown off, so is his worst enemy, his best friend, one of his teachers, and a guy who hadn't made it onto the plane yet. All are really pissed at Alex. They watch the plane take off, and Merry Mishaps occur.
Zoom forward about a month. Alex begins to get his weird feeling again. He realizes that he has cheated death, and the catastrophe that missed him the first time is coming back around for another shot.
We never actually "see" death. Unlike most teen horror films of this ilk, there is no slasher who has gone off the deep end for questionable reasons. It is death itself that they must fight. In FINAL DESTINATION, Death is not a skeleton in dark robes, but rather a disparate collection of events that lead to mishaps that in turn cause death. At least, that is how they would appear to those who viewed the aftermath. But under the canny genius of James Wong's skillful direction, we see that there is willful though unseen intent behind each and every "accident". The Monster forever remains hidden and immortal, just like death, and as such, is never something you can fight but only at best, out run or, at worst, try and outwit.
Alex is the only one who is now in tune with the tell tale signs of Death's coming and passing. He is the one who must decipher Death's design and where it will lead. Every time he is wrong, he will bear witness to the death of one of his friends, or may find himself the target.
Exceptional performances go to Ali Larter (HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL) who plays Clear, the one person on the plane who was not involved in Alex's struggle when he had his startling premonition. She got off because intuition told her he was right.
Also Kristin Cloke as Ms. Valerie Newton. She is saved by Alex's premonition, but in the face of so much death can only feel horrified by his presence.
From what I saw in magazine previews of the movie, Andre Gaul sculpted some extraordinary FX heads for the film that, unfortunately, went largely unnoticed in the film. This never distracted from the movie, but his work is so incredibly realistic that I had to mention it here in hopes that someday soon his talents can be showcased.
This movie got to me several times gang. I'm not exaggerating when I say that, I jumped in my seat and shouted out loud, very loud. Do you understand what I'm saying? In a theater full of strangers, for one brief moment, I lost my cool, man!
Again, I was not alone.
5 Shriek Girls make FINAL DESTINATION a horror classic. The best Horror movie that New Line Cinema has ever had and one of the best horror movies of all time.
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