Like most horror franchises, The Final Destination movies have had their ups and downs. Here’s every entry in the series, ranked by their IMDb scores.
The Final Destination franchise traces its origins back to an unused The X-Files screenplay written by Jeffrey Reddick. Death itself is the invisible force wreaking havoc on characters who seemingly escape their fates after nearly losing their lives in terrible accidents. These characters, believing they just avoided a horrific fate, soon realize Death’s system of checks and balances won’t let them get away so quickly.
Thanks to the success of the first film starring Devon Sawa, four cinematic sequels, two comics, and nine books followed suit. While none of the subsequent movies live up to the original, the Final Destination franchise maintains a large cult following of people who are waiting with baited breathe for a sixth installment.
5 The Final Destination (2009) – 5.2
The highest-grossing of all the Final Destination films, The Final Destination drew in audiences after it was marketed as a high definition 3D experience. Nine years after the plane crash in the first film, a group of college students takes a break from studying to watch a car race at McKinley Speedway. As the cars zoom past them, one of the group, Bobby Campo’s character Nick O’Bannon, is struck with a premonition that a terrible car crash will cause the stadium to crumble.
As with the other films, Nick and his friends get away just in time. The only problem: Death isn’t done with these co-eds. One by one, they die in a series of seemingly freak accidents. Despite its status as a moneymaker, The Final Destination does nothing to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it relies on tried and true tropes and plot points established by its predecessors.
4 Final Destination 5 (2011) – 5.8
Unlike any of the other Final Destination films, Final Destination 5 received mostly positive reviews from critics. It also did well in theatres, earning almost as much money as The Final Destination. This installment is set in New York, where a man named Sam Lawton – played by Nicholas D’Agosto – envisions a massive collapse while traversing the North Bay Bridge. Sam, on a bus full of his colleagues en route to a company retreat, must convince everyone to get off the bridge as soon as possible.
The ones who listen to Sam watch in horror as the bridge indeed collapses due to high winds. When Death makes move on the survivors, they band together around Sam to collectively beat their sinister fates. Tony Todd, known as funeral director William Bludworth, returns to guide Sam and his friends through their battle with Death. Serving as a sort of Grim Reaper character, Bludworth informs the coworkers the only way to remain alive is to take the life of someone else. There’s a big caveat to this rule, though, that the group realizes too late.
3 Final Destination 3 (2006) – 5.6
The disaster at the center of Final Destination 3 is a failing roller coaster at an amusement park in Pennsylvania. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays high schooler Wendy Christensen, whose premonitions about the roller coaster crash come true. As with other entries, Wendy and the few friends she convinces to disembark from the aptly-titled Devil’s Flight ride are pursued by Death’s unseen hand. The gang researches the events of the first two films in order to figure out a way to cheat Death.
This installment includes some especially tense death scenes involving tanning beds and nail guns, but its plot suffers from a lack of originality. Even though it’s directed by James Wong, responsible for the first Final Destination movie, Final Destination 3 misses out on a big opportunity to push its familiar backstory into new territory.
2 Final Destination 2 (2003) – 6.2
Final Destination 2 picks up one year after the horrific Flight 180 crash depicted in its predecessor. It stars AJ Cook as Kimberly Corman, who experiences a sense of foreboding on her way to Daytona Beach for spring break. When Kimberly has a vision of a massive pile-up on Route 23, she stops her SUV on the entrance ramp in order to stop anyone behind her from getting on the highway. When her vision in fact comes true, the survivors start to die off one after another.
Kimberly seeks the help of the only person who survived the aftermath of the Flight 180 crash: Ali Larter’s character Clear Rivers. With Clear’s assistance, Kimberly works to save herself and those she blocked from entering the freeway. They pay a visit to William Bludworth, who gives the woman sage advice: the only way to defeat Death is to create new life.
1 Final Destination (2000) – 6.7
The franchise began with this paranoid teen thriller that frustrated most critics but scared the pants off generations of young moviegoers. ’90s teen star Devon Sawa stars as Alex Browning, a high schooler who freaks out on board a flight to Paris for school. After dreaming the plane will crash, Alex causes a scene and gets himself kicked off. A few of his classmates follow suit, and they all watch in revulsion as the plane explodes right after take-off – killing everyone.
Final Destination develops all the narrative arcs explored in its sequels: freak accidents leading to the deaths of the survivors, police officers who refuse to believe the protagonists, dreadful death scenes, and one failed attempt after another to cheat fate.
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