2 weeks ago-ish, I compared the Urban Legend franchise to the Final Destination films, because, really, there are quite a few similarities between them. Both have a fun, scary first film, which is followed by sequels that gradually become less and less effective as they come out; both try(with varying degrees of success) to tie the original to the sequels; and both franchises waste their potential by recycling material over and over again. But this is the first Final Destination, so it's a pretty cool movie. Watch along with me as many deaths(and SPOILERS!!!) follow...
Okay, so let's have a little background on these films first. Each movie in the series opens with a huge disaster, resulting in many, many deaths...so far, there have been 2 disasters involving automobiles, a plane crash, a rollercoaster malfunction, and a suspension bridge collapsing in the next one. So, a main character always "sees" the tragedy before it actually happens, and they convince others to escape before the accident can claim their lives. Got it? Good, then let's get started...
Okay, so as the film opens, we meet Alex, our protagonist. He's your typical teenager, about to embark on an adventure with his French class, a trip to Paris. Sweet! After the opening credits, Alex is in his bedroom packing for the trip, and his parents walk in to help. As his mother starts to rip an old airline tag from Alex's bag, he tries to stop her, citing that he thinks it's bad luck to remove the tag(some nonsense about the last flight the bag was on landing safely, so the tag would be lucky). She shrugs off his superstition, and rips the tag off anyway. Then Alex's father tells him to live it up on his trip to Paris, and Alex gets a look on his face. It seems to imply either that he's worried about the trip, or massively constipated. My money is on the latter.
That night, a strange breeze moves through his bedroom. I guess that even Death can have bad gas. A voice calling his name wakes Alex up, but he rolls over and continues to sleep. A weird glitch on his clock-radio turns the time, 1:00, briefly into 180, the flight number of the plane he's going to be aboard.
The next morning, the class arrives at the airport, and this gives us an opportunity to meet our victims...There's Tod, Alex's best friend; George, Tod's older brother; Carter, the stereotypical wiseass jock of the group; Billy Hitchcock, played by Stifler himself, as a clueless dweeby kid; Clear Rivers, a damned hot artist/free spirit type; Terry, Carter's girlfriend; and Valerie Lewton, one of 3 French teachers chaperoning the group. Oh, there are many, many others, but this is our main group.
Alex checks in his luggage, and is told that the flight information is the same as his birthday. After that, Clear drops a book, which opens on a picture of a crash. Weird. Then Alex is convinced by Tod that they should go to the bathroom together. Hey, I thought only chicks did that! While taking a dump, Alex realizes that the PA system is playing a John Denver song...not a good omen, given that Denver died in a plane crash.
Anyway, it's finally time to board the plane. On his way into the plane, Alex starts to notice more weird omens: he sees the plane from a window, as lightning flares up in the background; signs of rust and deterioration on the outer door frame; and the plastic handle holding his seat tray up snaps off in his hand. As Alex starts to get worried, the plane pulls away from the gate. Tod tries to arrange for a seat next to a lovely teen fox, but Alex screws it up for him, by agreeing to change his seat so that the girl can sit next to her equally attractive friend. Christa and Blake, are their names, I think.
Then it happens. Turbulence shakes the plane at first, giving everyone a not-so-nice jolt. The jolt settles down, then becomes a plane-quake! As people get jostled and luggage goes flying, the safety-breathing masks fall from the ceiling....it's a great movie to watch if you're about to take your first flight.
Everyone is screaming and going nuts, and that's when one of the ceiling panels starts showering electrical sparks over everyone, and a wall on one side of the plane explodes outward. People on that side of the plane literally get sucked out of the aisle, seat and all. As the plane starts a sharp descent, a ball of flame travels down the length of the plane, enveloping Alex and the rest of the passengers in a fiery ball. The flesh melts from their faces, and--
Alex wakes up, still waiting for the plane to take off. Blake and Christa are again asking Alex if he could change his seat. Alex rushes past them to where Tod is seated, and pulls off the tray handle, all the while sweating bullets. While the rest of the passengers watch, Alex loudly announces that the plane will explode.
Naturally, this declaration isn't exactly welcome news. Tod grabs Alex to try to calm him down, and while a male flight attendant tries to get him to sit again, Carter steps up to try to take a swing at Alex. As he two boys are pulled apart, a group of passengers also exit the flight:Tod, Billy, Clear, Valerie Lewton, and Terry join Carter and Alex in the exodus from Flight 180.
The other French teacher, Larry, also joins the group, and that causes a bit of a problem for the flight as well...with only 1 teacher on board, who's going to chaperone the remaining students? After reasoning with airline personnel, Val convinces Larry to get back to the flight. She reasons that she and the remaining students can always catch the next one. As the plane starts to pull away from the terminal, she sits with Alex and asks him to tell her what happened. Alex describes his vision, and Carter drags Terry over to openly mock him.
Alex decides that enough is enough, so he leaps up and attacks Carter. As security personnel try to seperate the boys again, Billy stands at the window, shakes his head, and watches as the plane blows up in mid-air. The explosion causes the airport's windows to shatter, and everyone stares at the aftermath in shock, Alex included. Then the survivors all turn to stare at Alex.
In the aftermath of the explosion, Alex and the others who walked off of Flight 180 are brought to a holding area for questioning. The others continue to stare at Alex, so he tells them that he didn't cause the crash. When Val Lewton asks him if there are any other survivors, he replies that he doesn't know. At that point, a grief counselor comes in, accompanied by Federal agents Weine and Schreck. They announce that, one by one, they want to get all of the varying accounts of what happened, and how.
Naturally, they start by questioning Alex. He tells them about his dream, but they try at first to accuse him of being on drugs. When that goes nowhere, they accuse him of doing something to the plane beforehand, but they have no proof.
What follows is a montage of all of the surviving group answering to the Feds. Each one talks about the guilt they feel about leaving loved ones behind. Clear, who had no friends among the survivors, admits that she followed the others simply because she had an instinct that Alex was telling the truth. After the interrogations end, the families of the survivors are allowed to see them. Everyone has a tearful reunion except for Clear, who is left standing alone. Alex and his parents offer her a ride home, which she accepts. She doesn't say much on the journey, and gets out of the car almost as silently, walking to her home through a path flanked by trees.
Once he's back in his own home again, Alex finally breaks down and mourns his classmates. Long after his parents fall asleep, Alex finds himself glued to the television, watching as searchers try to find other survivors or clues about what caused the explosion. Alex starts to get upset again, but a storm outside distracts him. He sees a massive bolt of lightning hit the street near his home.
The story then catches up with the survivors, 39 days after the explosion. I have to chuckle at that because none of the sequels ever attempted to give their characters that kind of time to resume their lives; in most of the sequels, the survivors start dying almost immediately. I seriously doubt we'll ever see that kind of restraint in any future installments either.
Anyway, the students of the school, their families, and the families of the deceased are attending the unveiling of a memorial statue dedicated to the tragedy, a gigantic eagle taking flight, and an area for the names of the deceased. Ugh. As Alex turns around to spot his fellow death-cheaters, he spies the 2 FBI guys watching the ceremony from behind the audience.
The ceremony winds up, and the survivors all form a line, for each to place a rose in front of the memorial. Carter and Alex have a brief conflict, followed by StifleBilly asking Alex to predict his death-date. Then Alex freaks out Miss Lewton, before sharing a nice moment with his best buddy, Tod. To top it off, Clear approaches Alex, tells him that she owes him her life, and they get caught together by a newspaper photographer.
Tod reads a little speech about how unpredictable life is(Thanks, Captain Obvious!), and it seems to worry Alex. Then we get to watch a scene that night, in which Tod pops zits and plucks out nasal hairs. Hey, remember when I complimented the movie for not jumping right into the death scenes? Well, I changed my mind. Kill Tod, movie...kill him before he reaches his anal warts!
Death enters the bathroom through a window. Funny, because I always thought Death was either Adam Carolla or Norm McDonald, but he's a breeze. Maybe Death blew a fart into the room.
Tod feels the sudden chill and turns around, but sees nothing out of the ordinary. As he shuts the window, Death's flatulence moves through the room, finally settling on closing the bathroom door. Tod, of course, hears and sees nothing, but does take a crap. Why is this movie so obsessed with crapping? Anyway, Death decides to loosen up the back of the toilet, enough for a small amount of blue water to begin leaking onto the floor.
While Tod is waiting to die, Alex is turning his own bedroom into Plane Crash HQ, with books, maps ans documents spread out everywhere. He picks up a newspaper to read about the memorial ceremony he was just attending(I guess his short-term memory is worse than my own!), then switches to a skin mag. Hey, perhaps Death will give him a masturbation-related kill-scene! Has that ever happened in a slasher flick before?
Tod prepares to shave, despite his utter lack of facial hair, and Death switches from wind form to toilet water. Ooooh, scary blue water!! It moves toward Tod's feet, and he insists on shaving. As he nicks a spot under his chin, an ominous shadow moves past the window, catching his eye.
As he faces the mirror again, The Toilet Water of Death creeps ever closer. Tod decides to shove some tweezers up his nose(a smart move in this franchise...), and then plugs in a small boombox next to the sink. When the music playing turns out to be ANOTHER John Denver song, Tod unplugs it and walks away.
Just to mock me, the movie decides to return to Alex and his porn collection. He's drooling over an "article" featuring a naked blond, and a caption reading "Tymme Has Come Today", but an owl startles him. He throws the porn mag at the owl to scare it, and his oscillating fan shreds the page he was on, flinging a small scrap of paper onto his knee. It reads "Tod"...Uh Ohhhhh...
Tod decides to take a shower, but his mother's underwear is hanging up. As he starts the task of moving the clothing aside, the Death Water makes a beeline for him, causing Tod to slip and fall forward. The clothesline wraps around his neck several times, and he accidentally turns the faucet in the tub on. Tod kicks and struggles with the tight cord around his neck, to no avail, and blood vessels in his eyes burst. Downstairs, his father is drunk and asleep, oblivious to Tod's struggle.
Tod spots a small pair of scissors just out of his reach, but tries to get them anyway. He fails, and his last few seconds of life are spent having death spasms. After Tod dies, the Blue Water of Death retreats back into the toilet again. I know they just ran the film backwards, but it's still a neat effect.
Alex is outside, trying to get to Tod's house. He sees the emergency vehicles and flashing lights from a distance, and runs to the house. He asks 2 EMT's what happened, then notices that agents Schreck and Weine are watching him very closely. He also spots Clear behind a tree, and she indicates that he should leave very fast! Before he can do that, Alex is stopped dead in his tracks by the sight of Tod's body being brought out on a stretcher. Tod's father sees him and accuses him of causing Tod's death by filling his head with guilt and remorse. Um, and who was drunk and asleep while Tod was being killed?
After watching the ambulance take the corpse of his best friend away, Alex takes a long walk and has a Forrest Gump moment with a leaf. Life is like a plane of corpses! When he looks around, Alex realizes that he's standing in front of Clear's home. Her dog approaches him, and Alex and Clear have a discussion about the events of the previous evening. She tells him that the reason she left the plane was because she had a "feeling" that he knew the plane was in danger, so she went with that instinct.
Alex puts forth the theory that Tod's death might be the first in a series, then wishes that he could see Tod one last time. Clear responds by suggesting that they break into the funeral home, which they end up doing. They do some searching, and when they discover Tod's corpse on a slab, it jumps and scares the holy crap out of them(and me!),
We then meet the coolest character in the FD franchise: Bludworth. He's a mortician who is in every FD movie except one, so far. Anyway, he tells them that Tod's body jumped because it was injected with swomething called a "vascular flush". Bludworth also informs them that Tod's death wasn't an accident, because there are no accidents.Nope, Death has a design, and everyone's a part of it. Deep, dude.
Bludworth also tells them something that you'll hear a variation of in every movie: Death's design can be changed, but Death will work on claiming any lives that were missed the first time around, by making a new design. The rules vary from movie to movie, but that's the basic gist of it.
After letting the mortician freak them out, Alex and Clear grab a coffee at an outdoor cafe. They discuss recognizing the omens and signs of their impending deaths, and Alex shows her the scrap of paper that had Tod's name on it. While Clear tells him that she doesn't think "signs" are anything but bullshit, Alex sees another one, a large bus or truck reflected in the cafe's window, but not on the actual street.
While this is going on, Carter and Terry drive by, see Alex and Clear talking, and Carter swerves to pull up to the cafe. In the process of making his illegal turn, Carter comes very close to killing Billy, who is out riding his bike. Oh, and Val steps out of the cafe to see the commotion Carter's erratic driving has caused. Hail! Hail! The gang's all here!
Alex tries to explain to the entire group the theory about Death's design, but no one--including Clear-- wants to accept the concept. In fact, Terry informs the rest of the Flight 180 survivors that as a young teen woman, she's not going to die, and certainly not any time soon. Everyone looks sort of ashamed for listening to Alex as he ranted and raved.
And then a bus kills her as she backs herself into the street. Awesome.
Alex goes home, sits on the couch, and calmly sips a glass of cold water while watching television. Clear calls him, but even though his father urges him to take the call, Alex refuses. Then the news report he's watching has an update about the explosion's cause: faulty wiring and combustible fluids may have made a "trail" through the cabin, under certain seats. Anyone wanna guess which seats were outlined in the news diagram?
Alex traces the path, then holds his trace over the seating chart he saved from earlier. Just as he expected, the key areas of the explosion were all seats that were supposed to be occupied by the survivors. Not only that, but the survivors are now dying in the same order they would have been killed on the plane. Now that he's cracked Death's new design, Alex follows the chart with his finger to discover who is next on the list: Val Lewton, the hot teacher.
Val's at home, packing her house up. She tells someone on the phone that she doesn't feel comfortable going back to teaching at the high school, and everywhere she goes in town brings her bad memories. She looks out at her front yard, and sees Alex standing there like a stalker. She says goodbye to her caller, then dials the police.
Alex drops lower to the ground, then approaches her car and examines the tires. As he's testing out how sturdy they are, Shreck and Weine drive up, and question Alex about his actions. Val watches as Alex gets in their car and is driven away. Though the window's closed, Death still makes his presence known, by moving past the curtain.
In an interrogation room, Alex shares his idea about the order in which the Flight 180 survivors will die. Neither Weine nor Shreck believe the idea(DUH!), and they start to mock him a bit. While they keep Alex squirming, Val is still getting her shit packed, and boiling water while listening to a John Denver record. Why John Denver? Why not Buddy Holly, or Richie Valens? How about Elvis, or maybe John Lennon? I mean, we already saw how Denver tied into the plane crash as an omen, but unless a plane falls on Val while she's eating, it really doesn't work....
Oh yeah. I was watching this. So Val fills a kettle with water, and sees the shadow of Death pass by. When she looks behind her, nothing's there of course, so she tries to wipe the reflective surface of the kettle to calm her nerves. She puts the kettle on the stove, lights the stove with a match, and waits to die. There's a brief scene with the investigators again, but they let Alex leave, because they can't prove that he had any involvement in the deaths of either Tod or Terry.
And now, at last, we get to watch Val die. She freaks out over a coffee mug and pulls a bottle of alcohol out of the fridge. As she drops some ice cubes into it, a cracks appears at the base of the mug, and alcohol starts to pour out. She puts her drink down to resume packing, oblivious to the fact that there is liquid now dripping into her computer, which is starting to smoke.
She finally sees the smoke and approaches the PC, only to get her throat slit when the computer starts to explode a bit. On her way to the kitchen to try to stop the bleeding, she bumps into her record player, and John Denver starts singing again.
On his way home, Alex sees an old man burning leaves, and gets another premonition. At about the same time, Val staggers into her kitchen, unaware that her spilled drink has started a fire behind her. The alcohol trail on the floor soon turns the kitchen into a fireball too, just as Alex arrives.
While Alex tries to come up with a plan to save his teacher, Val spots a dish towel hanging over her knife rack. She tries to grab it from the floor, and succeeds int getting a huge knife imbedded in her chest. Alex gets into the house and follows the trail of blood to the kitchen, but before he can attempt to remove the huge blade from his teacher, a chair is knocked over, hammering the knife all way into Val's body.
Alex removes the knife anyway, and seems shocked when it doesn't magically bring her back from the dead. Maybe he thought she was a vampire?? With his fingerprints now all over the knife, Alex runs outside again, where Billy sees him. The house explodes, sending both boys flying to the ground. Alex runs away, leaving Billy to wonder what happened.
Shreck and Weine pay a visit to Clear, to ask her what she thinks of Alex and his theories regarding Death. While she's evading their questions, Billy is trying not to get run over by Carter. Using a pocketknife, Carter tries to add Terry's name to the Flight 180 memorial. Clear meets up with Billy and Carter, and they decide to look for Alex, because he knows which one of them will die next.
In Carter's car, he shuts Billy up by telling him that he's next on the list. They decide to look for Alex at the beach(???), and Clear does find him, sitting on the sand and staring up at the stars. He wonders out loud if Flight 180 might have survived in some alternate universe. This prompts Clear to tell Alex that she used to be afraid that her parents would die....and they did. Well, her dad anyway, while disrupting a robbery at a convenience store. The mother remarried, and that sent Clear packing.
In the car, they all ask Alex what he knows about the order in which Death will claim them. Carter somehow gets the idea in his head that he'll be next, so he freaks out. After a brief conversation about fate, Carter decides to floor the gas pedal. As the car goes through red lights and speeds past stop signs, Alex tries to reason with Carter. Alex gets a brief premonition about a speeding train, then Carter stops the car on some train tracks.
Everyone gets out of the vehicle except Carter, who tries to play it cool. That works out great, until he realizes that the car won't start, his seatbelt is jammed, and the doors refuse to unlock. Oops. With the help of Alex, Carter finally exits through the window, just as the car is torn to pieces by the train. Oh, and Billy gets decapitated.
As the final 3 survivors argue about what happened, Alex realizes that his intervention is what saved Carter, which made Billy next in line to die. Police sirens can be heard in the distance, so Carter urges Clear and Alex to find a place to hide.
The hideout is a small house in the woods, which Alex tries to set up to be safer. Sharp objects get taped up, most things objects get put away, then Alex eats something that looks dog food. A breeze starts a chain reaction in the room, and Alex narrowly misses getting stabbed by something that gets stuck in a door that he shuts. He finds hooks all over the floor, then yells at Death like the lunatic that he is.
After a short scene between Clear and the investigators, Alex reads an article about Flight 180, and realizes that he's not next on the list. Since he never changed seats with the girls in his premonition, his life wasn't meant to be the next to end, Clear's was.
Clear looks out her bedroom window, just as some freak lightning hits a telephone pole. The phone gets knocked out, as does the power to the house. As Clear realizes her predicament, Alex escapes from the cops in a canoe.
Clear lights a candle, and makes her way through the dark house. her dog barks as another chain reaction is about to get underway, then the movies shifts back to Alex. He reaches the other side of the lake/pond/river/God-made bathtub, starts running again, and is nearly caught when the cops drive right up to him. He jogs through the forest, nearly gets his head ripped open by a jagged branch, the knocks himself out and falls into a puddle, face-first.
Clear isn't having much better luck. She sees the chain reaction that Death is about to set in motion, but stops long enough to try to save her dog from being killed. A flimsy pool bursts, sending water everywhere, then the live power lines snake around, getting dangerously close to the water. Clear climbs a fence just as the power line finds the water. Death's Shadow passes by once more, so Clear climbs to her house's roof, and tries to get herself to a part of the yard that isn't electrified.
Clear breaks an upstairs window, just as Death finds her. She runs through the house, and Death keeps barely missing her with the electrocution. Boy, that Death sure is one clumsy fellow! As Clear climbs her way to the roof, the power line seems to be searching for her on the ground. She jumps back down to dry ground in front of the house, and climbs into the car. Of course Death follows her, and there's a LOT of electrical action going on outside of the vehicle.
Alex finds her, and tells her not to touch anything inside the car. He sees that the cable has landed on the hood of her car, and tries to knock it away with a shovel. It goes flying, but also lands in the garage, where a gas can is knocked to the floor, so now the trail of spilled gasoline sets the area around the car on fire. Geez, Death is a pretty poor sport, huh?
Alex realizes that if he wants to save her, he has to sacrifice himself, and he tells Clear as much. Then, as Clear watches in horror, Alex grabs the snaking power cable and removes it from the hood of her car, where it's resumed its attempt to fry Clear. The amount of voltage sends Alex flying off his feet, and into the garage. Clear rushes over to Alex, and finds his body smoking, and his hands pretty wrecked with burns. Shreck and Weine just stand back and watch, like the useless boobs that they are.
The screen fades to white, the voices become softer, and it's THE E--
Nope, false ending. There's a creepy shot of an airport terminal, and the movie tells us that it's SIX MONTHS LATER...okay, thanks movie, try a whisper next time. Alex, Clear and Carter finally took their trip to Paris after all. Tres bien!
At an outdoor cafe, they discuss how they earned a second chance. They make a toast to their dead friends, then Alex drags out the seating chart, because he's worried that Death might have simply gone back to the top of the list again.
Carter mocks him, but Alex suddenly sees a number of bad omens. A guitarist is playing a John Denver song at a nearby table, a street lamp catches fire briefly, and some red wine spills on the seating chart, right on their names. Alex freaks out, and that's when the chain reaction begins.
Alex decides to leave, so that they'll be spared, and Clear sees a phantom bus in the cafe window. She screams at Alex, and he narrowly avoids a bus killing him. It crashes into a fruit stand instead, and causes a pole-like display to spin. The pole catches a neon sign and rips it in half, sending the number 180 flying around.
As the gigantic 180 swings toward Alex, Carter springs into action, knocking Alex safely to the ground. Carter teases him about being next, but Alex points out that he was skipped yet again, when Carter intervened. As Carter stands over Alex and asks who is next, the large 180 swings back down. The screen goes black as the sound of breaking metal and glass is heard. THE END.
Wow. First off, I have to apologize for the lateness of this one. In the week-and-a-half since I watched Urban Legend, my Comcast service here in the new apartment has crashed several times. I hear from a friend that he's had the same experience, so that sucks. Anyway, any week where I don't post....now you know why. Okay, so let's sum this one up...
It's a really fun horror film, with all of the creative deaths, and a great premise. While each sequel varies in quality and deja vu(counting the next one,the franchise now has 3 opening sequences that involves car wrecks), it's still fun to see how elaborate or crazy they're willing to go. Plus, it's funny to watch how far they stretch credibility to tie the sequels to the first one. I give the first Final Destination 5 killer trees out of 5.
And here's what I learned from watching Final Destination:
-Death is like that one guy you knew who liked to pull practical jokes incessantly on his friends.
-John Denver's music kills people.
-You can never put too many toilet scenes in your movie.
It looks like my next slasher is April Fool's Day, which is a lot of silly fun. I hope my internet connection stays up this week!