“If I See 180 Mentioned One More Time….”: A Final Destination Series Recap

“If I See 180 Mentioned One More Time….”: A Final Destination Series Recap

Final Destination 5 is coming to theaters this Friday and though it’s not my favorite horror series, it’s entertaining enough at times to keep me glued to the screen for 90 minutes or so. I thought it was time to go back and watch this somewhat clumsy series that failed to be anything above mediocre, but even with its mediocrity, it still won the hearts of many. The last FD was called THE Final Destination and while that was allegedly supposed to be the final film in this fading series, the movie did so well in the box office that there had to be another one. You see, The Final Destination was not received well critically but it came out during the whole 3D craze and people were in the mood to seeing characters getting murdered all up in their faces. To be honest, I don’t love this series and don’t find it compelling enough to want to watch by myself or even suggest it to a friend. In preparation for Final Destination 5, I sat down with John Squires and watched all four movies in the course of two days, I don’t suggest it people, I really don’t.

Final Destination (2000) JOHN DENVER, JOHN DENVER, JOHN DENVER! 

Probably the most honest and well thought out film of the series. Alex Browning, after having a clairvoyant vision that the plane he is getting on is going to crash, screams for everyone to get off and get back into the terminal. Only a few freinds go back with him and, as he predicted, the plane blows up. In doing this, he and the people he “saved” have cheated death by not going when they were supposed to. Death then acts like a serial killer of sorts, trying to get its victims in clever and unique ways that will please the gore-hungry audience. Not a perfect movie but fun enough to watch and though it runs itself into the corner in the end (do we really need Alex talking to himself?), it’s a fun popcorn movie that tries to take a different route in a genre that is littered with masked killers. Oh, and we get the John Denver reference, you’re not that clever.

Final Destination 2 (2003)

Out of everything that can be taken away from the 2nd installment, there is only one positive aspect, and that is the freeway scene in the beginning. Over the top and plenty gory to keep anyone happy, those first 10 minutes or so are some of the best scenes from the franchise. The catalyst death with that tree trunk going through the cops head, or that guy crawling out of the car while getting burned. I feel that they may have blown most of their budget on that opening scene but it’s highly memorable. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is cumbersome and tries to tie itself to the first entry far too much. It becomes a little nuts when the characters are just explaining every little thing to each other, the writers didn’t know how to keep the film moving without some people asking, “Wait, what’s going on?” and the response being, “Well, if we create new life, we null out death!”. It’s just dumb, serving no real purpose other than to attach itself to the first movie. The dialogue is simple, and the writers felt that their audience must be dumb so they explain every little happening in much detail. We don’t care! Just kill another person! Avoid this one at all cost, I’ll post the freeway scene below (I could only get the embed code for a rather low quality one, sorry!):

Final Destination 3 (2006) “Fuck Death!”

I probably had the most fun with this entry to the series so far, with an extended “intro” and better gore, the 3rd installment was beginning to find the right formula as to how to make the franchise better. It even introduced new ideas, with the photos being the connection to each persons death. Even with the great gore, creative deaths, and new ideas, FD3 just winds up getting caught up in the series horrible dialogue. The dialogue plagues these films, making them annoying and just plain simple. James Wong, the director of the first film, comes back to the directing chair here and probably saves this movie from being a failure. The inclusion of the photos, while offering some new ideas, becomes rather silly when they keep looking at the pictures and then looking around them for clues. I don’t know, I guess it’s all about the deaths.

The Final Destination (2009)

I don’t like to come out directly and state that a film is pure trash or that it’s horrible in a review but holy shit, is this film horrible. The production value rivals that of a SyFy film with poorly done and extremely noticeable CGI. You know those death scenes where the characters just have something fall on them (like cement) and they just disappear? This film is littered with those, people are just photoshopped out. The opening “premonition” (does anybody in these movies know what that is?) is not even good, which was usually the best parts of the other films. I have to give credit to the opening credits sequence though with its homages to the other films and showing the previous deaths in X-Ray form but other than that, avoid this one. Also, other than being offensively bad, there are two very offensively racist scenes that are tasteless and mean. I am all for pushing the envelope for comedy and making fun of past offences but to use certain words in a mean way, when it didn’t need to be done, is just lazy.

To somehow sum of this rather awkward series I would say that Final Destination has a lot going for it and some great elements that were fresh to the horror market. Unfortunately, it just fails every time to be anything above mediocre for me, even with all those great death sequences. By the time that John and I reached the end of the 4th film, I was just done with the whole franchise, with its bumbling and pointless dialogue, the refereces to “180” over and over again, and just its lack to really wow me. About that 180 business, I get it, the plane from the first film was flight 180 but do we really need to tie it into every film? If you look closely, you’ll see that number littered throughtout in different things. There’s no real significane to that number but the directors just found it to be funny…or something. Anyways, I’ll be seeing Final Destination 5 tonight and I’ll be expecting this formula:

1. Intro has one lucky character have a premonition of some terrible, death inducing event.

2. Said character tries to convince everyone to get away from danger hotspot

3. Everyone blames that character for the deaths of others for some reason

4. Some new element to beat death is introduced

5. Death skips someone, or someone avoids it

6. Turns out they missed something and they are next to die anyways

7. Probably another premonition at this point

8. Everyone dies

To be honest though, I am sort of excited for this installment, with Tony Todd coming back (is he death?) and the already warm reviews that were given. If anything, the 5th entry will prove to be only an enjoyable 90 minutes and after the last film, it can only go up from here.

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My name is Jesse Lee Alan Bartel and I love being a critic on things you don't care about. I love films, horror, writing, and violent video games. Hope to hear from you and happy stabbings. I am also a regular contributor to The Liberal Dead.


  1. […] that I would be sitting here at my desk writing a positive review for Final Destination 5. After watching all of the precursors (if that formal word really fits the series), I was done with […]

  2. […] I was very surprised not only by the humorous dialogue and tight plot but I was also taken aback by how convincing both Tucker & Dale were. They are these lovable hillbillies who share with each other their own philosophies and PBR. The subtle bromance that transpires is adorable, and I know that’s not what should be said about a horror film but if you watch it, you’ll know what I mean. Never getting too serious with their relationship, the bubbly nature helps from allowing the film to get stuck in themes other than “fun”. I can’t say I enjoyed the performances of the college kids, except for the lovely Katrina Bowden. I know all the kids are supposed to be stereotypes of what you would normally see in a slasher film. You have the jock, the black guy, the slut, the nerd, and the alpha dog. Each person becomes forgettable and they don’t feel as genuine as Tucker &  Dale do. The level of gore is great and as you can tell by the Red Band trailer, the kills are creative. The movie doesn’t weigh on those kills though, that’s kept to series like Final Destination. […]

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