Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Wendy Christensen
Ryan Merriman - Kevin Fischer
Kris Lemche - Ian McKinley
Amanda Crew - Julie Christensen
Sam Easton - Frankie Cheeks
Texas Battle - Lewis Romero
Alexz Johnson - Erin Ulmer
Chelan Simmons - Ashley Freund
Crystal Lowe - Ashlyn Halperin
Genre - Horror/Slasher/Supernatural
Running Time - 93 Minutes
Score - 3 Howls Outta 4
Being afraid of heights and losing control of what's going on, it's hard to enjoy going to a theme park or a carnival. Sure they're a lot of fun once I warm up to them, but I dread it when someone drags me to a Ferris Wheel or a roller coaster. Don't get me wrong - I love the rush that comes with riding these awesome contraptions. But getting stuck at the top of the wheel or that long suspenseful buildup to the top of the tracks that only leads right back down don't make me feel at ease.
I couldn't imagine living the roller coaster experience in FINAL DESTINATION 3 though. It's bad enough feeling like I'm gonna have a heart attack knowing I'm gonna be riding through loop after loop after loop. But to watch my friends fly out of their seats and get cut in half by steel? Yeah, not something I want to live through any time soon. But watching this scenerio happen and its aftermath happens to be fun, making FINAL DESTINATION 3 a threequel that's worth a look.
During Graduation Night at the local carnival, yearbook photographer Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) snaps away digital photos of her classmates, including her boyfriend Jason (Jesse Moss) and their friends Kevin (Ryan Merriman) and Carrie (Gina Holden). As they make their way to Devil's Flight, the main roller coaster attraction of the carnival with its 200-foot corkscrew coaster, Wendy starts having a bad feeling about getting on it. When she finally sits in the coaster, Wendy has a premonition of everyone dying mid-ride. Freaking out, she's escorted off the ride along with Kevin and several other classmates. Since this is a FINAL DESTINATION film, the premonition comes true - killing those still on the coaster including Jason and Carrie.
Struggling with her grief and guilt over the deaths, Wendy builds a wall around herself. Kevin, wanting to help, tells Wendy about Flight 180 and how that story ended [see: FINAL DESTINATION]. Wendy tries to shake that off, but once she looks through the photos she has taken, she notices that they seem to display the fates of those whose lives she saved on the rollercoaster. Using these hints, Wendy and Kevin try to intervene and ruin Death's design before Deaths starts to collect what he's been owed.
The threequel is usually a sequel too many in many franchises. These [in]famous threequels either end that franchise or question the makers behind that franchise whether the proverbial milk has indeed dried up. FINAL DESTINATION 3, in all likelihood, should have joined this club. After all, how many times can one watch the same film with the same exact concept only with different characters and different death sequences, only reaching to pretty much the same conclusion? But FINAL DESTINATION 3 actually works better than it should and better than probably anyone would expect. Yes, it's the same crap fed to us with FINAL DESTINATION and FINAL DESTINATION 2. Yes, the story isn't as strong as it should be. Yes, the deaths are as ridiculous and over-the-top as ever. But like its slasher brethren, these films continue to be entertaining even when the components that the original established have been dumbed down. Horror is a weird genre, as the same movie can be made 12 times and we'll still watch them, love them, talk about them, and debate which installment was better even when they all do the same exact thing. Go figure.
Like with FINAL DESTINATION 2, the story is what brings the film down. It's pretty much all style and not enough substance. In fact, FINAL DESTINATION 3 is pretty much the same film as FINAL DESTINATION. Just replace the airplane with the rollercoaster and interchange the deep characters with more shallow ones and you got yourself a film. FINAL DESTINATION 3 also isn't as funny or as ironic [tongue-in-cheek] as the first two films, taking itself more seriously than the others [although the film has its moments]. It's one of those sequels that plays it pretty safe rather than bringing anything new to the surface. We still don't know why certain people get these premonitions. We still don't know what's the deal with Death's design. Hell at this point, no one even really brings it up anymore. Does anyone even care? I did enjoy the idea of how science plays when it comes to life and death though, with each action having a counter action. I know a lot of people like the mystery, but by the third film, you sort of want answers to these things.
While the characters are pretty paper thin like the ones in FINAL DESTINATION 2, at least I enjoyed watching these stereotypical idiots. From the stubborn jock, to the ditzy blonde Paris Hilton wannabes, to the player who's obviously a virgin, you enjoyed watching them get killed. And you actually kind of cared because at least with their stereotypes, there was some sort of personality that came with them. They were cannon fodder but they were cannon fodder that never bored me. And the lead characters were actually engaging to watch because I could understand their grief and their pain knowing that Death is on their ass. Can't say the same with the first sequel.
The gore in FINAL DESTINATION 3 satisfies the horror need. The opening sequence with the rollercoaster is just so damn brutal and it's like one of my biggest fears when I'm ever on a rollercoaster. Plane crashes and highway turmoil is nothing really new, but to have such horror on a fun ride makes the sequence creepier to me. I think more could have been done with the sequence but it's cool as it is. And the rest of the deaths are pretty fun. The tanning bed scene is cool. The nail gun scene is pretty messed up. We get the one with the weights machine crushing some dude's head [always fun]. We get THE OMEN's impaled by a long rod. Someone gets crushed from above, with the guy in half still twitching after the fact. And that last subway scene hits me hard because I ride the train ALL THE TIME. The second film is probably gorier but the third film doesn't make me complain either.
The direction by FINAL DESTINATION director James Wong is very good. Some of the shots have a lot of style [that rollercoaster scene especially with mini-cameras that worked with remote control to capture the real life movements of the coaster to create a more realistic experience] and there was some nice suspense during the death sequences. I also liked that Wong used the real actors in the actual death scenes instead of having some sort of stunt double replace them. It helped maintain an authenticity in a surreal world. The cinematography looked great and the film flowed at a nice, quick pace. The visuals will never bore you, even when the CGI is evident at times. It's a great looking flick that would have benefited from a deeper script. But you can't have it all, can you?
The acting is definitely a step above FINAL DESTINATION 2 [even if it's not as good as the first one]. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who starred in DEATH PROOF, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, and other stuff, does extremely well as the lead character. Her reactions to the premonitions and the deaths that occur around her are strikingly believable and you actually feel bad for her for going through this. She's a really credible young actress and she carried this film well I thought. Ryan Merriman, who was in the horrible HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION, also did a really nice job as Kevin, playing the "straight man" and giving really believable support for Winstead. Texas Battle played a one-dimensional asshole jock well as Lewis. The guy had no substance at all but that gym scene cracks me up. So I can't hate the guy. Kris Lemche was cool as the dark-ish Ian, being an unstable smartass pretty well. The other actors played their roles as best as they could given the material. And it's always nice hearing Tony Todd's voice as both Satan at the carnival and as the train operator at the end.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE JAMMING TO "LOVE ROLLERCOASTER"
- Ashley and Ashlyn had a lot of slutty fun playing that game where you shoot the water gun into the clown's mouth to fill a balloon, winning the prize at the end. Being on the receiving end of long things shooting towards their mouths, I'm not surprised they were pros at this game.
- You should never get on a rollercoaster hosted by Satan called Devil's Flight, where skulls and skeletons are the decor and the only gate you can step through involves any form of the number 6. If you ain't Regan, Emily Rose, Damien Thorn, or Spencer Pratt - GET THE FUCK OFF!!!
- Never bring a camera on to a rollercoaster. Pictures may last long, but getting killed lasts longer. No matter what Kodak or Polaroid has told you, remember: memories are overrated.
- Ashley and Ashlyn got fried in their tanning booths. Judging by recent events, George Hamilton has yet to see FINAL DESTINATION 3.
- Don't ever portray yourself as the consummate ladies' man. Being your own biggest fan can inflate your big head. Or that big fan could ground it into pieces. Neither one is good for anyone.
- Erin got drilled by a nail gun to death. Those 30 seconds were more exciting than the 80 minutes I spent watching THE NAIL GUN MASSACRE. Ugh...
- Only douchebags would light firecrackers near a horse. Here's hoping their horse dick cellmates fire inside their cracks in prison!
THE FINAL HOWL
While the first FINAL DESTINATION is still the best, FINAL DESTINATION 3 proves that not all threequels suck hard. It's a fun film with funny death scenes that's not gonna harm anyone. It's a thrill ride, plain and simple. If you've seen the others, you know what you're getting with this one. Generic and hollow, sure, but it still entertains the hell out of me. Sometimes, that's all you want.