Dir. James Wong (2006)
After cheating Death by getting off a rollercoaster that crashes shortly thereafter, Death comes for another group of high-schoolers.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Let me start off by saying something to make myself perfectly clear: Final Destination 3 is not the best movie of the series. Final Destination, the original, is a fantastic movie and does a great job of introducing this brand new concept to the movie-going world. It’s well-paced, and it doesn’t even require that much of a suspension of disbelief. In contrast, Final Destination 3 is a much wilder ride, and a lot of the things that happen require a little bit of “yeah, ok, that doesn’t seem like that would happen in real life.” Are the events that occur possible? Sure, in very specific, tightly controlled circumstances, most of the things that happen in the film are technically “possible.” Is it as well-constructed of a film as the original? No, it’s definitely not, and it has its weak moments in both filmmaking and acting. Is it super fucking fun and possibly the most fun, tongue-in-cheek film in the series? Absofuckinglutely.
Final Destination 3 is a fucking blast from start to finish. Whereas the first film made sure we’d never get on a plane again without considering how close we were seated to the emergency exist, FD3 made an entire generation terrified of roller coasters and substantially increased the wait at the Teacup rides. The movie features some of the most nutso, batshit crazy and super terrific kills of the entire series, and the roller coaster sequence at the beginning of the movie is outstanding. While I can certainly say that I don’t want to die in any of the ways that occur throughout the entire franchise, the tanning salon deaths have to rank right up there among the most uncomfortable, most terrifying and painful deaths in recent horror memory. As someone who absolutely refuses to be hot whenever possible, that scene alone is my fucking nightmare.
Literally the worst thing I can possibly imagine.
I’m a huge fan of the original film, but this one is way more action-packed and chock full of gory delight. And, it features a voiceover cameo from Tony Todd, keeping the streak of appearances alive and adding a nice little Easter Egg to the film. In one of the better final sequences, Death, who has thus far been kept away from killing three of its originally intended victims, pulls the ole’ One Hitter Quitter with an epic train crash finale. We even get a teaser vision for the crash, and unlike in the shitty followup The Final Destination, there’s no escape from this one. The final sequence is filled with callbacks, ominous signage, and the scariest “turn around because something’s sneaking up on you” song since Total Eclipse of the Heart, which is repeated to great effect throughout the film as the consistent callback song for this film (the previous films had Rocky Mountain High and Highway to Hell).
The kills are all over the place in this film, from an engine block half-capitation to a reprise of the glass crush from the second film, and arguably the best of the series when taken as a whole. In fact, in my upcoming list of the Top 10 Final Destination Kills, expect to see several from this film, because the gore effects and machinations behind the kills was fantastic throughout most of the movie. The hardware store scene in particular is tense from beginning to end, and the sequence of Rube Goldberg madness at the centennial celebration is insane. It’s an exciting movie, which is something that Final Destination desperately needs to avoid having a lackluster sequel (looking at you again, The Final Destination). The acting is really good, the direction, again by James Wong, is competent, and its everything you need for a good Final Destination sequel.
Who this movie is for: All horror fans, Mainstream gorehounds, Disgruntled Six Flags employees
Bottom line: FD3 is probably the second-best FD movie, and it’s fantastic. Featuring some of the best kills and not neglecting its Tony Todd quota, it’s a great shoutout to fans of the series as a whole and a wild ride from start to finish. It expands the lore a little, but not in an irritating way, and it’s got nice bookends on both ends of the feature to make the fans happy. Absolute must see, and definitely belongs in the series rewatch, even if you can only pick two. As a fun aside, if you happen to have the DVD of this film, there’s an included feature where you can choose the destiny of each character in the film. It’s a fun little addition that lets you decide how things play out, and a great inclusion of the fans by the people who made the film. Check it out!