Sunday, August 14, 2011

Final Destination 3 (2006)

Another batch of people and accidents

From playing on fears of planes to automobiles to here carnivals and even trains--minus Steve Martin--"FD3" picks right back up with a fresh batch of survivors that are going to turn victims for our sadistic viewing pleasure. There's another sight-seeing person--borrowed from the Frank Black "Millennium" template--who has the premonition ability that we all wish we had, as most of us get it in the end only with a stupid grin on our faces by thinking: So, that's how it's going to happen?

"I was having that feeling like deja vu, you know? Except for something that hasn't happened yet," the late teen, Wendy, says after going out with her friends to snap a couple of photos for the yearbook at the local fair, along with to take part in all the seemingly safe rides before stepping out into the real world after high school. She feels off and not just from the smell of carney food and strange atmosphere, but something truly isn't right. All this boils inside her and she eventually freaks after getting a vivid premonition, which causes her to narrowly escape a grim fate along with several "lucky" others that as viewers by now know are only prolonging the inevitable.

Caring for the collective ensemble of characters at this point is not at the front of your mind, as most of 'em aren't even given personalities beyond the surface. They still manage to take their roles somewhat seriously instead of just going through the motions, and that makes it a little less straightforward than it could have ended up being. Similar to the template of the first two films, a gal and a guy--this time the boyfriend of Wendy's lost friend named Kevin--have to analyze her photos that came with a few clues as to what's in store for those that escaped Death's clutches. Of course, the others don't believe it, as they think it's just a coincidence, which the audience--with hands rubbed diabolically together--knows that their unwilling ability to accept the facts is only going to perpetuate the pileup of bodies.

We live in a world where not everything is secure and foolproof. Essentially every waking day is a risk and the message here is that you might as well not know when your time is up or how it's going to happen as it comes with extreme anxiety and paranoia. Think less along the lines of nail bitting and sweating at the brow and more closer to a homeless man with a crack addiction walking through Harlem with a C note in his pocket. Sometimes it feels like there's a little less tact and subtley involved and it kind of takes away from any building tension but this still manages to deliver a sudden, shocking gory depiction when the victim finally gets it. Because let's face it, they did piss off Death and after all we're made mostly of water and all those sharp and heavy objects that we've constructed in the modern day came back to bite us in ways we never expected.

"FD3" plays on the whole "safe danger" aspect we get so used to, where something is done so many times that you accept that there's no real threat. That optimistic phrase you always remind yourself about: What's the worst that could happen? Comes with a few gruesome and somewhat creative answers for the next time some person spouts that one without thinking ahead. Director/writer James Wong and writer/producer Glen Morgan team up again from the first film. The tone has a little less dark humor and takes itself a little more seriously than the second film, even with some extra time given to think about the after effects of death, such as guilt and denial, even if it's not put in a way that's extremely ponderous stuff. There are some effective scenes, though for the most part this isn't entirely scary as it also has tendency to break itself down and make fun of its very own concept past the point of just being skeptical.

"FD3" isn't exactly producing anything more than "FD2" in that it follows a template that you can rely on rather than goes beyond expectations. The abrupt ending could have used some more work as it fell right into what you thought it was going to do if you've seen the others and by now feels a little cheap. Otherwise this might be an old trick to a new audience if you haven't seen the other films. Though it's still not entirely underwhelming in that they're still working hard at delivering gory and inventive death scenes with pretty teens. Destruction of beauty is always a beautiful thing in itself, don't you think?

Rating: 5/10

Director: James Wong (The One)
Stars: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryan Merriman, Tony Todd
Link: IMDB

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