Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Wendy Christensen
Ryan Merriman as Kevin Fischer
Harris Allan as Roller Coaster Attendant
Jessica Amlee as Young Girl
Texas Battle as Lewis Romero
Jamie Isaac Conde as Leon Equinox
Sandra-Jessica Couturier as Carnival Goer
Amanda Crew as Julie Christensen
Agam Darshi as Laura (attached)
Sam Easton as Frankie
Patrick Gallagher as Colquitt
Gina Holden as Carrie Dreyer
Alexz Johnson as Erin
Alexander Kalugin as Yuri Yershov
Kris Lemche as Ian McKinley
Crystal Lowe as Ashlynn
Maggie Ma as Ling
Dustin Milligan as Marcus
Cory Monteith as Kahlil
Directed by James Wong
The gore ante is raised another notch in this satisfying follow-up where Death finds gloriously grisly new ways to deal with teenagers who dare to spit in his face.
Wendy Christensen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and her best friend’s boyfriend Kevin (Ryan Merriman) are two of the seven high school kids spared from death in a grisly rollercoaster accident. Once they realize that Death plans on collecting his victims anyway, they must decipher the clues in a series of photos to try to save others from an even worse fate.
Amidst the slew of teen horror films from the last decade, “Final Destination” immediately stood out due its unique premise of Death being a presence that didn’t like losing victims when they are saved from their untimely fates. This threequel follows the same formula as the previous two with seven people being spared death in a tragic accident only to meet grislier fates, and director James Wong, who bowed out from the sequel after helming the original, has returned giving himself a tough act to follow after David Ellis upped the gross-out ante in the sequel. Wong returns to the original film’s premise of high school students being Death’s victims, although it maintains a lot of what made the sequel so great, taking a lot longer to build-up to each spectacular death.
All the fears of riding a rollercoaster are exploited in the freak accident that makes up the opening salvo for what’s to come, and though it’s as impressive as the highway pile-up in the last film, it’s actually tame compared to what Death has planned for those that survive. But first, we meet the graduating class of McGinley High, celebrating at the amusement park with all the usual suspects in attendance: the cocky jock, the bitchy popular girls, the chauvinist sex maniac, the goth outcasts, and the film’s heroine Wendy, a control freak left sitting on the coaster with her best friend’s boyfriend Kevin, who somehow sees that the rollercoaster is fated to crash killing all. She causes enough of a ruckus to save them both as well as five others from their tragic fate, but by now, all students have heard the story of Flight 180 and the survivors who died mysteriously afterwards. Using photos taken by Wendy before the accident, they try to decipher the clues of what Death has planned, and of course, it doesn’t take long for Death to get to work reclaiming his victims. The bitchy beauties are quickly killed off in a tanning salon accident, offering a great visual gag, then the jock gets his in the weight room, and the goths’ job at the hardware store offers plenty of opportunities for grisly deaths.
In most of the cases, you expect something to happen, but you never know where the kills will come from. If you try to guess, you’ll probably end up being wrong. It’s the build-up to these deaths, and the various twists that keep things exciting, offering plenty of shocks and surprises with each character’s denounement. As hard as it may be to believe, some of them are even gorier in their realism than the last movie. By the time it gets to the town’s county fair, Death has run amuck trying to tidy up loose ends, creating a fast-paced series of kills and close calls. Although there seems to be a big chunk of story missing after that, the epilogue is even more satisfying than the one in the previous sequel.
Of course, if you’re naïve enough to go see this movie for its acting, you’ll be disappointed to learn that there are no Streeps or De Niros in the young cast. Mary Elisabeth Winstead does a passable job as Wendy, though she’s not nearly as strong a character as A.J. Cook’s lead in the previous sequel. Ryan Merriman is likeable enough, though nothing new. The rest of the cast of characters are so irritating that their gruesome fates are that much more enjoyable and deserving. The best of them is Kris Lemche, who channels Seth Green as the philosophizing non-conformist goth Ian McKinley, who refuses to believe that Death might be coming for him, and ultimately, becomes a bigger threat to himself and others. If this threequel teaches us only one important lesson, it’s not a good idea to mock Death.
The writing isn’t Shakespeare, but the movie could have been far cheesier if it continued the endless exposition about Death’s plans that was already fairly well covered in the last two movies. The sequel spares us the gab, but it also lacks some of the humor, although irony is still Death’s partner in crime. Regardless, it delivers on the premise with what most viewers want, which is one long grisly rollercoaster ride from beginning to end.
The Bottom Line:
Delivering a movie almost as satisfying as the previous sequel, James Wong’s return to the franchise doesn’t disappoint, because you can’t help but laugh and cheer as each annoying character gets their due. Obviously, the premise still works, and Death shouldn’t retire with this third chapter.