The Final Destination for Awesomeness

I know many film series follow a formula by default; but the Final Destination franchise really has it down to a science. You can be sure that the film will follow a very, very distinct pattern. 1. An unfortunate teen/young adult glimpses the future where friends (and enemies alike) are horribly killed in a mass, freak accident. 2. This young person then successfully rescues as many other young adults from the situation before the accident occurs. 3. They are immediately questioned by the police and left in suspicion for the rest of the movie due to their actions. 4. People rescued from the accident start to die in mysterious accidents. 5. Primary character has a revelation that people are dying in the order of how they died in the vision. And somewhere along the line, a guru like Tony Todd’s undertaker appears to nudge the characters along to the realization that you cannot cheat death. The successful thing about the franchise is that with its formula intact, the writers can spend their time focused  on how best to driver to viewer insane during its death scenes. So far in this the franchise has not failed. The characters, premise, etc may be beyond ridiculous but just how and when death will deal its fatal blow is still so effective. You know it is going to happen, but how?

I wish I had been taking notes while watching the film because I spent the majority of it thinking up the formula and reminiscing about the first film. I decided to watch it after some very enthusiastic tweets from Bret Easton Ellis.

I am a major fan of the first film. I have seen it countless times; I love it. After that my interest started to wane. Aside from the deaths, I have not been overly interested in any of the films.  Throughout the film, I kept comparing it to the first one; I mean they were following the formula to a tee. The main character was even going to Paris. I did have to wonder how Tony Todd decided to arbitrarily start making “new” rules 10 years down the line but in hindsight I think I have an explanation for this.

Then I started to think: I have a pitch for the next film. Because the films follow such a distinct pattern, why not create a world where the characters know about the events of previous films? (Tony Todd and Ali Larter aside, FD5 definitively shows that they exist within the same universe).  I can’t help but think of this one episode of Intervention where the woman figured out she was on an episode of Intervention! It was mind blowing. These events are happening, why not allow the characters to be one step ahead of the formula? This not only speeds up the learning curve, it provides a fresh angle. I want to write this screenplay. Settled.

Then FD5 went from being yet another “eh” installment to…best one since the original. And it happened in the last 5 minutes. SPOILERSSSS. I had no idea this was the ending, thankfully. I have to suspend reality with the fact that their clothes did not look like they came from a decade ago but…this was a prequel! The main couple end up on the plane that Devon Sawa escapes from in the original. Tears were coming out of my ideas at the sheer delight of the twist! My hypothesis is that Tony Todd realized that when you tell people murder will save you (basically) then it becomes a very viable option, thereby causing even more chaos. So he decided to let them stick with the idea of getting death to skip you instead.

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About Staciellyn Chapman

Grad student at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. This blog is an attempt to condense the craziness that is my TV viewing habits (with the occasional aside into film, music, and general life).

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