By Ray Schwetz
Since the 1996 release of "Scream," there have been
many alleged horror films released that were geared
towards teens. Most have been fairly awful ("I Still
Know What You Did Last Summer," "Disturbing
Behavior"), some have been mediocre ("Urban Legend,"
"Idle Hands") and a handful have been pretty good.
"Final Destination" falls into this latter category.
What makes "Final Destination" stand apart from its
peers is its unique premise. A young man (Devon Sawa,
of "Idle Hands") is set to go on a school trip to
Paris. He has a vision of the plane blowing up so he,
and a few others, gets off. When the plane blows up,
the remaining survivors discover that they may have
escaped Death's plans. The only problem is, Death is
coming back around to finish what "he" started..
Rather than having a villainous murderer in a mask,
"Final Destination's" villain is an unstoppable force.
Death stalks its victims as a force creating a
sequence of accidents, or occurrences that will bring
about the demise of its target. The film is cleverly
directed by James Wong and the script has credible
dialogue and interesting setups for the victims. The
film manages to be creepy, gory, funny, and fun, all
at the same time.
The film is not without faults. For example, I found the conclusion a little contrived. However, you'd be hard pressed to find a better genre film released in recent years.
New Line continues to make almost every DVD in their
library a special edition. Fans of the film will
definitely not be disappointed.
The video presentation is stellar. The colors are
vivid and sharp. There is no visible grain or
artifacting. This is an outstanding transfer, folks.
The 5.1 audio is, for the most part, equally good.
Occasionally, there were a few moments where the
dialogue seemed a bit muffled or overcome by the music
and sound effects, but overall the soundtrack is at
least up to par with most recent releases. The
surround channels are especially active.
There is a wealth of supplemental materials included
on this New Line DVD. Most interestingly, is a group
of three deleted sequences containing a surprising
subplot which alters the ending of the film
significantly. I think this ending actually works
better than the one in the film, but it does drag a
bit too long and it is a bit of a downer. The ending
included in the theatrical version certainly does keep
the film moving at a better pace and is more in
keeping with the film's established tone.
Included on the disc are three separate commentaries.
First, we have a commentary by director James Wong,
producer Glen Morgan, and the writers. Second,
there's a commentary with Devon Sawa, Kristen Kloke
(Ms. Lewton, an obvious nod to legendary filmmaker Val
Lewton), and Kerr Smith (who plays Jack on "Dawson's
Creek," my wife tells me). Thirdly, we have a
commentary by composer (and oft-Carpenter
collaborator) Shirley Walker, which includes her
majestic film score. The filmmakers track is
obviously the most informative. They point out all
the subtle (and not so subtle) moments on the screen
that were included to let the viewer know Death is
The actors track is very laid back and fun in
spots, but you probably will only listen to it once.
The isolated score included on the composer track is
superb. Isolated scores should be a standard with
genre films, as they get most of their power from the
There are two featurettes included on this DVD as
well. One shows the whole process of test screenings.
This is a really interesting look at how the business
side of filmmaking effects the creative side. The
other is a documentary about a real life psychic,
which I found to be unintentionally funny.
That's not all! You also get two interactive games.
One is the "Death Clock", which calculates when you
will die. I must admit, I did not attempt to use this
feature. The other is a card game, which is supposed
to grade your psychic abilities. There's also some
additional DVD-Rom stuff, but I haven't gotten a
chance to explore this yet. Bottom line is, if you're
not impressed by all the features I've already
mentioned, you will probably not buy this DVD!
Personally, I think this is another standout release
from New Line and I think they deserve some major
kudos. Horror buffs looking for a refreshing change
of pace will probably enjoy this film quite a bit.