31 Days of Guilty Pleasures – ‘Final Destination 3’

A few years ago I did a daily countdown to Halloween that featured some of my favorite scares from 31 different horror movies. This year I’m bringing back the feature, but this time we’re taking a look at some of my favorite guilty pleasures.

There’s no rhyme or reason to how these movies are being listed, so the placement on the countdown doesn’t denote any sort of ranking. Also, my definition of guilty pleasure is a movie that ranges from either being not very good to outright bad, but there’s something about it that still makes it endearing to watch.

With five films to choose from in the “Final Destination” series, how did I land on the third one as my favorite guilty pleasure?  Personally, I think it’s the middle child that gets overlooked.  The first dominates the family by being the one to introduce to the world to death’s crazy machinations.  The second one, while not as memorable, still shares a bit of the spotlight with the original.  The fourth is arguably the worst in the series and is most notable for being in 3D and everyone remembers the fifth one for its crazy ending. Leaving the third one to be a fun romp through mayhem that doesn’t get as much attention.

In “Final Destination 3” a senior field trip to an amusement park goes awry when Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a premonition about a roller coaster going off the tracks and causing a deadly accident.  As a result of her hysteria, other people jump off the ride and manage to avoid the fatal accident.  However, death is not one to be denied and soon begins to take the survivors one by one.

There are a lot of great opening massacres in the “Final Destination” franchise.  The freeway sequence in part two has to be the best, but for me the roller coaster sequence is a close second.

Maybe it’s cause I don’t take a lot of flights, drive on freeways with logging trucks, attend NASCAR races, or travel over suspension bridges, but I’ve always felt like this could happen to me.  I’m a big roller coaster fan and every time I get on a ride this scene flashes through my brain.

I also think there’s a certain brutality to the kills in “Final Destination 3” that is less darkly comedic than other films in the series.  It’s also much more direct and less about the crazy Rube Goldberg style set-ups.  Take, for instance, the death of Erin.

There’s a lot going on in the scene with the trio being pinned under falling debri, but ultimately Erin’s death is just her falling backwards into a nail gun and getting brutally shot to death.

Well except for Ian’s death later on the movie which is the result of an almost literal Rube Goldberg process.  It’s even got a ball rolling around to help set things off.

At the end of these films there’s usually a comeuppance where everyone gets taken out in one final accident.  In this one I find that the subway sequence probably has to be the most effective one as it plays out then gives you false hope that it can be averted before revealing that the characters are truly doomed. That’s pretty low, even by Death’s standards.

That final shot of panic and horror is just gut wrenching.  Between the roller coaster segment and the train sequence this film does an excellent job of making you feel like you’re not in control of what’s going on around you.  It’s not the best in the series, but it’s close to being my favorite.  Definitely worth a watch.

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