Final Destination has become a household name in the horror society, with its one-of-a-kind kills and a highly successful film franchise. However, we’re going to go back to where it all started, 17 years ago, to the original 2000 film where we learned that death doesn’t take no for an answer.
James Wong directed and helped write the film along with Jeffrey Reddick and Glen Morgan. Shot on a budget of $23 million, Final Destination originally did not perform too well at the box office. However, worldwide the film ended up grossing around $53 million. To me, it seemed the love and popularity for Final Destination grew in the years after its initial release, which could explain why it took three years for a sequel to be spawned. The film also did well with critics – even Roger Ebert praised it. He went on to predict the film’s franchise:
“Final Destination will no doubt be a hit and inspire the obligatory sequels. Like the original Scream, this movie is too good to be the end of the road.”
I think what made Final Destination so great and unique was the concept behind the film. It is technically not a ghost story, a slasher, or a supernatural horror. Final Destination is about death and fate, with death as the main antagonist. It is a rather creepy thought, that each decision you make, whether big or small, could ultimately decide your fate.
All of the cast delivered excellent performances. Devon Sawa shined in the film, successfully pulling off a troubled yet intelligent young man ready to fight fate. Ali Larter also made quite the impression. While she was rather unknown at the time, I definitely think Final Destination helped her career take off – she starred in the sequel as well. American Pie alumni Seann William Scott did great as well along with Dawson Creek’s Kerr Smith and Saving Silverman’s Amanda Detmer.
Above all, Tony Todd must be mentioned. Although his role is small in the original, his character played a significant part in the story and throughout the entire franchise. Even when we didn’t see his face, we heard his voice. He still did a perfect job playing an ultra-creepy character.
- What many viewers do not know is that Final Destination is actually loosely based off of a true story. On July 17th, 1996, Trans World Airlines Flight 800 took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on route to Paris, France and twelve minutes after takeoff, the plane exploded. Tragically, all 230 passengers onboard were killed, including sixteen teenagers and five chaperones from a French club at a Pennsylvania high school. Director James Wong had read an article about a mother that called her daughter warning her not to take a particular flight because she had a bad feeling about it. The daughter listened to her mother and decided to skip the flight, and to her surprise, the plane did actually crash. Wong had found the story “creepy” and began thinking, “What if the daughter was supposed to die on that flight?” Thus, the idea of Final Destination was born.
- The music played throughout the movie was by John Denver, a musician who ironically died in a plane crash as well.
- Most characters in the film are named after directors or stars from black and white horror movies including Chaney, Waggner, Browning, Murnau, Hitchcock, and more.
- Also, let’s touch on the ending a bit. Did you know there was an alternate ending shot where Alex dies and Claire gives birth to his baby? The ending was released on some BluRay and DVD versions included as special features.
Final Destination has many memorable scenes that will likely stick with viewers forever. The most unforgettable, of course, is the plane crash scene. I don’t know about you, but I was afraid to fly for years after seeing that. Something about the scene seemed so real, raw and terrifying.
Now, let’s also not forget the bus scene: the irony of it, the timing and just how plain awesome it really was. Final Destination definitely set the bar high for gore and death scenes after its release. They’re unique and brutal, and they have you questioning every move you make.
This film is definitely one that stands out among some of the other horror movies that came out in 2000: iconic cast, unique story, and a terrifying antagonist. So, on March 17th, the anniversary of the film’s release, be sure to give Final Destination a well-deserved watch and let us know what you think about the movie itself, the brilliant deaths, and the franchise as a whole.