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Devon Sawa Getting there
is half the terror

Cleverly made film brings some new tricks
to the bump-off-the-teens genre

"Final Destination"

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

(Click on the images to see larger version and credits.)

Longtime "X-Files" producers Glen Morgan and James Wong are responsible for what is -- at first glance -- a typical "bump-off-the-teens" horror/thriller. But if you know anything about their pedigree, you'll realize you're in for a wild ride.

Heartthrob Devon Sawa stars as Alex Browning, a nervous teen who is getting ready to go to Paris on a field trip with his high school class (now, why oh why didn't my school go places like that?). After experiencing a series of unsettling premonitions which make him a bit more nervous, whatever power is trying to communicate with him finally hits him over the head with a particularly vivid vision of the plane's destruction. Unnerved, he freaks out on the plane, sending several of his classmates and himself off the plane, which takes off without them and is promptly blown from the sky. No survivors.

Ali LarterAlex is treated as a bit of a nutcase by those who survive, including the jockish bully (Kerr Smith), his exasperated girlfriend (Amanda Detmer), his sympathetic buddy (Chad E. Donella), a badly shaken teacher (Kristin Cloke), a somewhat tightly-wound cyclist (Seann William Scott) and an artistic orphan who is somewhat sweet on him (Ali Larter). He is also pursued by a pair of milquetoast FBI agents, who are suspicious about his vision.

However, things get sinister in a hurry as, one by one, the survivors are bumped off in grisly, mysterious ways. Turns out they were meant to be on that plane and that somehow, they've cheated death. Death is mighty cheesed off about it.

The rest of the picture is spent with the survivors trying to avoid the Grim Reaper. One of the movie's best features is that horror cliches are used to its advantage. The audience is set up to look one way when all of a sudden it is stunned by something coming from left field. It's a good roller-coaster ride, with lots of good surprises. Morgan and Wong excel at putting a different spin on things.

The trouble is, this is a movie designed to appeal to teens, which is great if you are one. But for the rest of us, it's a pain to have to endure the posturing and posing of young actors for whom looking cool is more important than looking believable. Some of the performances are a bit, shall we say, over the top.

Still, there is a lot of little things that make "Final Destination" worthwhile. All of the character names, for example, are based on the names of great horror directors and writers (see if you can figure out who is who). The effects, while grisly, are done to great effect. There are some terrific scares here, which makes this a good movie for men to take their dates to for some serious protection (wink). It sure worked on Da Queen.

When you have a genuinely creepy premise, sometimes you can get by with less-than-stellar performances. This could have been a better flick with better characters and better acting, but what movie couldn't be? Bring along a friend....see it in the dark.

Theater or Video?
This is one horror movie that requires a big theater for some of the scenes to work effectively.

DVD at Amazon.
VHS at Amazon.com.

See cast, credit and other details about "Final Destination" at Internet Movie Data Base.