In the column Pop Punishment, Louis Peitzman endures the most derided genre films, television, and literature, all for your sadistic pleasure.
"Life's a bitch and then you die." It's not a phrase you see on many t-shirts in the wild, but it makes sense that one of The Final Destination's nameless victims would wear something so trite. This series takes place in a universe in which death is the only certainty: you're going to die, and chances are you're going to die terribly.
I think that's why I've managed to embrace the cracktastic joys of all four Final Destination films-each one is a blatant "fuck you" to its characters and the audience. While other slasher movies offer some hope of survival (until you're inevitably offed in the sequel), Final Destination is all about accepting your role as cannon fodder. Death doesn't have Jason's skulking walk or Freddy Krueger's pun-heavy one-liners. But it's an undeniable force of nature-and in the Final Destination series, it's kiiind of a dick.
The Final Destination is undoubtedly the worst installment, made all the more ridiculous by the gratuitous use of 3D scares and terrible CGI. But for those of us who have embraced the absurdity of its conceit, it's just as fun as the rest-particularly if you watch it at home with those red-and-blue glasses. (No matter how silly you feel, you can take comfort in knowing you look even worse!) The Final Destination isn't the kind of bad movie you need to see on the big screen and, in fact, works better when you're struggling to see through tinted cellophane.
As in any slasher flick, there are rules to follow, but The Final Destination's are really just guidelines to your eventual doom: 1. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. 2. There is no escape from death. 3. It isn't over until everyone has been reduced to some form of skin chunks, gut bits, and brain matter.
Look, I'm a cynic and a neurotic. I spend much of my life seeing death traps everywhere, so I can't help but appreciate Final Destination's assertion that everything is an accident waiting to happen. The hair salon, the carwash, the mall-no matter how mundane the location, you're never safe. Of course, The Final Destination gives Death agency, which just makes survival a more hilarious exercise in futility. Death can move shit with its deathly powers. Death has a twisted sense of humor. Death is super into Rube Goldberg devices.
The best example of Death's douchebaggery is the manner in which he takes out Samantha Lane – MILF (this is how she's credited!). It slides a bottle of hair spray over to a flat iron, which shoots the bottle up into the unstable ceiling fan and sends the whirring blades plummeting to the ground. No one dies. This is just Death being an asshole. But now that we're all on edge-Samantha and the audience-Death gets tired of red herrings and sends a rock flying into her eye care of a lawnmower across the street. You know, because it can. It's also worth noting that Death won't let his eventual victims commit suicide. Why let someone shoot himself when it's just as effective to use a pool drain and suck out his insides through his ass?
There's no method to the madness. Each Final Destination movie includes scenes wherein the characters try to find a way to thwart getting mutilated, and each time they fail. Is it weird that I find that comforting? I've already convinced myself that I'd die pretty quickly in a horror movie scenario. The Final Destination puts everyone on an equal playing field-which almost sounds positive but actually falls in line with my shockingly paranoid worldview.
Moments before our hero Nick gets smashed into bits, he opines that he was "just in the right place at the right time." Silly Nick. There is no right place! There is no right time! Sure, Death gives a few hints along the way, I guess because it's funnier to watch the pitiful humans squirm around before you squish them. But when your number's up, it's up. Might as well pop a Xanax, sit back, and accept your fate.
Incidentally, I plan the same course of action in the event of a zombie apocalypse. You fight for your life-I'll be the one going gently into that good night.
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