‘No accidents. No coincidences. No escapes. You can’t cheat death…’
You know the drill by now. Does a drill feature in this franchise? Probably. Anyway. Here is every Final Destination movie ranked from worst to best…
5. The Final Destination (2009)
I don’t want to dwell on this piece of shit for too long, but I will confirm that everything about it is awful. The hideous use of 3D. The acting. Even the title. All of it is excretable. We don’t even get Tony Todd in this one to liven things up a bit. Weirdly, David R. Ellis also directed the perfectly serviceable second film in the franchise, but he drops the ball massively here, not helped by a clunky script and some of the worst special effects I’ve ever seen in a mainstream film. All the characters are either forgettable or unbearable, the death sequences are flat and underwhelming and the whole thing feels like a moribund franchise desperately trying to eke out something to milk the cash cow dry before it keels over and dies. You know things have gone south when characters in a 3D movie start actually wearing 3D glasses (see also Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare). The Final Destination is truly one of the worst horror sequels of all time.
4. Final Destination 2 (2003)
With the lore and the concept already in place from the first movie, David R. Ellis’ Final Destination 2 can concentrate on doing what this franchise does best – delivering gnarly death scenes.
The first Final Destination sequel kicks off with a spectacular sequence involving a logging truck and a freeway. This is genuine once-seen never never-forgotten stuff, and I can guarantee that I’m not the only one who thinks of this movie every time they see a truck carrying precarious-looking cargo. Unfortunately, the rest of the film never really lives up to this early promise despite some other excellent death sequences, and this is partly because, aside from the returning Ali Larter, the cast here are pretty bland and forgettable. Indeed, Kimberly Corman (A.J. Cook) is the most forgettable protagonist in the entire franchise and the rest of the supporting cast doesn’t make much of an impression either.
That being said, Final Destination 2 is a lot of fun and manages to up the ante in terms of spectacle and gore in a way that is satisfying rather than spectacular. A solid sequel.
3. Final Destination 5 (2011)
After the raging dumpster fire that was The Final Destination, this fifth and (at the time) final entry had to be better. Luckily, director Steven Quale does a great job in closing the franchise out. The opening sequence, while still not as good as the first three, is a massive improvement on what came before it, the cast are likeable and compelling, this is probably the funniest entry in the series without being an out-and-out comedy, and some of the death sequences are truly memorable (the gymnast scene… yikes). That being said, not everything works here. A subplot about an FBI agent tailing the protagonist is both tedious and unnecessary, and not everything in the third act holds up. Credit where credit is due though, the final twist is great and overall Final Destination 5 is a fitting end to one of the most purely enjoyable horror franchises out there.
2. Final Destination (2000)
Despite coming out four years later, Final Destination is still very much following the blueprint laid down by Scream. We have a flashy and memorable opening scene. We have a teen cast full of familiar faces (including alumni from Dawson’s Creek). We have a group of good-looking characters being murdered in ever more imaginative ways. And finally, we have nods to other horror films including a cameo from a horror legend (in this case in the form of Candyman himself Tony Todd). Unfortunately, what it doesn’t have is Kevin Williamson on writing duties. Director James Wong is no Wes Craven either but he does a good job of blending magic realism and teen melodrama with practical and visual special effects. Unfortunately, the script, credited to Wong, Glen Morgan and Jeffrey Riddick (who also serves as co-creator) is nowhere near as ground-breaking as what Williamson was coming up with at the time (although the premise and the plot are solid).
In terms of casting Devon Sawa is likeable in the leading role, and it is fun to see a final boy for a change. The others are fairly interchangeable with Sean William Scott miscast as a whining nerd and Kerr Smith’s role as the school badass also misjudged. It’s hard to shake the notion that these two roles should probably have been swapped. Ali Larter fares better especially as her character is so thinly drawn but it is Todd who provides the film’s best moments acting-wise in his movie-stealing cameo.
Final Destination is not the best movie in the franchise but it is the original and it is the film that introduced a concept that would become ubiquitous throughout 2000’s horror and beyond. Fair play.
1. Final Destination 3 (2006)
This film is the moment when everything comes together for the Final Destination franchise. It has the best cast, the best protagonist in Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Wendy Christensen, and it also has the best theme song in the shape of The Vogues’ creepy classic ‘Turn Around, Look at Me’. The rollercoaster scene at the start is an all-timer, and the other deaths are imaginative and memorable. Having our two main characters actually witness all of the deaths adds a pleasing new dimension and while it’s a shame we never see Tony Todd onscreen, we do still hear his voice a couple of times throughout the movie which provides a satisfying throughline with the rest of the franchise.
Final Destination 3 is that rarest of beasts – a horror sequel that actually surpasses the original. This third entry is genuinely frightening in places (indeed, it is responsible for my wife’s lifelong fear of rollercoasters), it is perfectly paced and it’s a whole lot of fun. Undoubtedly the best Final Destination movie.