Final Destination 3 continues onward with a premise that’s already been covered adequately by the first two movies in its series as teenagers tick off death by cheating it out of their corpse. Death is a spiteful little bitch, and so goes after them again in the most bizarre, gruesome, and implausible ways imaginable. You don’t want to piss off the grim reaper. Don’t expect to escape by challenging it to a game of Twister.
It’s a few days before graduation and the kids of McKinley High are hanging out at an amusement park. Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and her friends are strapped into a rollercoaster about to launch, when she has a premonition: the rollercoaster will malfunction, their cars will fly off the tracks, and in a few minutes they’ll all be dead. Wendy panics and gets off, taking her boyfriend’s buddy Ryan (Kevin Fischer) and a few of her classmates with her. Her boyfriend stays on, and as Wendy stands below screaming her vision comes true. Her boyfriend and everyone still on the ride is flung to their death.
Unfortunately, it’s not over for the survivors. By getting off the ride they cheated death’s design. Death isn’t some devilish, hood-wearing person in the Final Destination series, but more like the dark side of the Force. It’s a power that surrounds us, and sends us like rats through a maze to our demise. Wendy and her friends have only delayed the inevitable. Now death is stalking them, luring them into gruesome traps which might seem like nothing more than freak accidents, yet are anything but. People say these things happen, but these things happen as part of death’s ultimate plan. There are signs, and if they watch for them, Wendy and Ryan’s hope is that maybe they can cheat death again.
The first two movies take a pretty fun horror movie premise and turn it into a good (if not always sensible) pair of thrillers full creative deaths and fairly real characters reacting to their bizarre situation in the same ways we’d expect they would. Some are in denial, others consider suicide to regain control. People scream in horror as their friends die around them, or maybe sit down in a blood splattered corner to have a nice panic attack. Final Destination 3 continues onward with the same sort of clever, sudden killing, but settles for cast members who are oddly nonplussed by seeing a school chum get his head crushed.
I think the real problem is simply that they’ve made more of an effort to make this movie younger than the others. The first two movies featured a nice mix of victims, different ages, different attitudes, different lives. It wasn’t perfect, but at least there was some effort to ground it in a sort of relatable reality. FD3 throws all that out the window and settles for a bunch of character clichés, they might as well have brought in the cast of the OC. As a result, the dialogue feels trite and poorly written and it’s hard to get very involved in what’s happening when the characters themselves seem too cold and distant from what’s going on around them.
That doesn’t mean Final Destination 3 isn’t a fun entry in the series, it’s just not as good as the first two. Surprisingly, the plot hole filled premise holds up for another film. There are a few changes this outing, and FD3 doesn’t fit quite as neatly into the established storylines as the second one did (a little strange when you consider that this one, not FD2 is directed and written by the same guys who did the original), but ultimately there are still thrills in what has apparently become a trilogy, even if those thrills were better the first two times around. Final Destination 3 has plenty of giddy gore and a couple of suspense-driven scares, these days that’s really all you can ask from a horror movie.