Final Destination 3 DVD Review

Written by Sham


DVD released by New Line




Directed by James Wong

Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong

2006, Region 1 (NTSC), 93 minutes, Rated R

DVD released on July 25th, 2006


Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Wendy

Ryan Merriman as Kevin

Amanda Crew as Julie

Kris Lemche as Ian

Alexz Johnson as Erin

Texas Battle as Lewis

Sam Easton as Frankie

Crystal Lowe as Ashlyn

Chelan Simmons as Ashley

Jesse Moss as Jason

Gina Holden as Carrie



The Grim Reaper is back and better than ever in Final Destination 3, the most gruesome Destination yet. 

In the 2000 original, which was a collaboration of TV’s “The X-Files” veterans James Wong and Glen Morgan, the premonition of a horrible plane crash saved high school student Alex Browning and six of his classmates from certain death.  Upon surviving the accident, the fortunate seven became the unfortunate victims of Death itself, who would use Rube Goldberg-esque traps to kill off his prey in rather grisly ways.  The movie, while far-fetched, was smart.  It was a strict horror film with genuine scares, neat ideas, and energetic death scenes.  Following its March release, the movie remained in the Box Office Top Ten for a consecutive seven weeks, a rarity for R-rated horror pictures, and grossed over twice its $23 million budget in the nation alone.

A definite sequel wouldn’t arrive for another three years, but alas, Final Destination 2 crashed into theaters in February 2003 with a new director, mostly different cast, and bigger budget.  The movie concerned a group of motorists escaping a highway accident, and, just like the original, hunted down by Death afterwards.  While it didn’t have the dynamic earnestness of its predecessor, it boasted the same ingenuity of killing off its characters.  After all, you can never run out of new ways to die.

Final Destination 3 is the latest horror concoction from death gurus Wong and Morgan, and it certainly won’t be the last.  Using normal objects, events and situations as foredooming death traps, the creative edge marked by the previous installments is kicked up a notch with tricky perseverance.  This is that rare horror sequel that gives the original a run for its money.

Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead — the upcoming Black Christmas remake) is a graduating senior spending time taking pictures of her classmates at a local carnival.  As her and her friends endeavor a scary roller coaster called “Devil’s Flight,” Wendy foresees the ride malfunctioning, ultimately leading to every passenger’s malicious demise.  She and a few friends manage to get off the coaster before departure, only to witness the ride actually failing and crashing to the ground.

When the teenagers who got off the coaster begin dying in seemingly random accidents, Wendy notices clues hidden in the pictures she took that night from her digital camera.  The clues tell who will die next and in what method.  An early scene involves two ditsy girls burning to death in a fiery tanning bed accident, and they are later seen in their picture holding a palm tree with flames all around them.  Wendy eventually teams up with classmate Kevin, (Ryan Merriman – Halloween: Resurrection), and they inform the other survivors of their impending fate.

After the impressive highway pileup sequence from Final Destination 2, an equally engaging opening scene is hard to conceive.  The roller coaster disaster in this film doesn’t quite top the freeway accident, but it does offer a few cringe-inducing moments, especially the first shot of teenagers flinging out of a coaster car and falling to the concrete.  Much like the first two films, the CGI is handled with an impressionable amount of skill, but it’s the sound and Shirley Walker’s score that really grips you into the movie.

Leading actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who is already making a name for herself in the horror market, carries the role of Wendy with influence and emotion.  She and costar Ryan Merriman are fun together, principally because they have a lot in common despite their awkwardness.  Supporting actors only exist in this series to kick the bucket, and dying is the one thing they all get right.  Characters are ripped apart so outrageously that I wouldn’t be surprised if a severed head from one of the preceding movies lands in the middle of the next sequel.

Like the previous installments, Final Destination 3 works because of its macabre approach to the death sequences which, this time around, are delivered in some of the most sinister of ways.  Like the infamous bus scene from the original film, most of the deaths happen fast and unexpectedly, and there’s no time to grieve from the time of dispatch to the next elaborate setup.  The deaths themselves are amusingly over-the-top, resulting in characters being smashed, beheaded, or beheaded by smashing.

Interestingly, the most gratuitous part of the movie isn’t even an anticipated kill, but a plot device in which a character uses the events from 9/11 to coincide with the cheerfully shocking executions in the movie.  After all, we’re not here for a tasteless current event lesson.  We’re here to see a character slip in a hardware store and get nailed to death.

For a franchise about the end, it’s interesting to see this horror series refuse to die.  Final Destination 3, conflictingly enough, proves Death is alive and well.


Video and Audio:

New Line Cinema is the primary studio for excellent DVDs, partially because of their fantastic presentations of the picture.  Unlike their earlier genre effort The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which was a purposefully gritty print to reflect the movie, the picture here is clear and rich.  The movie, which was filmed in an anamorphic 2:35:1 aspect ratio, is mostly carried by a guise of red and bluish hues, and each is vibrant without any bleeding.  The day scenes are focused and lifelike while the night scenes carry the darker compression tones without any grain.

Now this is awesome.  Any DVD collector knows the sublimity of DTS, and Final Destination 3 boasts the most impressive DTS track of the series.  The roller coaster scene, in particular, is an awesome spectacle of crash effects and score cues.  It’s nice to see Shirley Walker returning as the music supervisor.  Her unobtrusive ambiance of the score really gives the series a signature sound.

Also available is English 5.1 Surround Sound, as well as English and Spanish subtitles.

Special Features:

  •  “Choose Their Fate!” Interactive Viewing Feature

  •  “Kill Shot: The Making of Final Destination 3” Featurette

  •  “Dead Teenager Movie” Featurette

  •  “It’s All Around You” Animated Short

  •  Cast and Crew Commentary

  •  Extended Scene

  •  Promotional Material

  •  Sneak Peeks

Any fan of the movie hoping to get this 2-disc Thrill Ride Edition DVD is looking forward to one thing.

It’s not the many featurettes or trailers.  It’s not the commentary, and it’s not the animated short about death in the real world.

It’s the “Choose Their Fate” interactive viewing option on Disc One, and to appease DVD collectors awaiting this highly anticipated feature, I’m going to happily inform you that it does not disappoint.

The “Choose Their Fate” viewing feature, the best of the bonus material on the DVD and the most creative I’ve seen from a horror label, enables the viewer to change the course and setup of the film’s events.  During a scene, the movie will pause when a character is doing a critical action like jumping right or left, shooting a kill or warning shot, and flipping a coin heads or tails.  You choose what the character does next, but there is a consequence to each action, some reflecting the theatrical movie’s events, and some taking a completely different course.

For example, when a busty brunette decides to change the temperature in the tanning salon, she has the choice between setting it to 73 or 76 degrees.  One will go the original way with the character burning to death inside a tanning bed, while the other — well — you’ll have to get the DVD to see what happens.

You can also save characters that were meant to die, changing later scenes in the movie.  Near the end, you can even discover what happened to the survivors from Final Destination 2 in a detailed but graphic article from a subway newspaper.  Despite a few plot holes developed from the choices, this is a groundbreaking feature and a thrill to experience.  I hope more companies take notice of this concept and use it for future horror releases.

Also on disc one is the commentary by director/co-writer Wong, co-scriptwriter Morgan, and director of photography Robert McLachlan.  Unfortunately, it’s easily forgettable and full of repetitive dialogue you can get from watching the other features in the set.  This isn’t so much of a bad commentary as it is a redundant one.  There are many instances of silence, where you’ll sit for a minute or two without hearing these three filmmakers talk about anything.  Come on now.  Three moviemakers have to have something to say!  This is a loaded DVD package, but the commentary seems weak compared to the better special features following it.

Such better bonus material consists of the disc two feature “Kill Shot: The Making of Final Destination 3”, a whopping 89-minute behind-the-scenes featurette.  Any fan of the franchise is going to love this feature, simply because every single angle of Final Destination 3 is covered.  The featurette is split into 10 different segments that also consist of a “Severed Pieces” section and a foreword to pre-production.  The 10 segments that are included mostly deal with the death sequences, detailing how they designed the elaborate setup, how they established the death, and what obstacles they came across to make it happen.  All of the episodes are fluid and well-edited, but my favorite segment is the one concerning the drive-thru sequence in which they turned a dilapidated building into a realistic fast food restaurant.

The aforementioned “Severed Pieces” section is an entirely different behind-the-scenes look, running an extra 14 minutes.  There are six chapters, ranging from subway miniatures to propane tank explosions.  My favorite of the segments is the first one about sound effects.  It’s interesting how these people come up with the sound effects for blood splattering and metal flying.

“It’s All Around You” is one of the more original features.  It’s an animated short that evaluates death statistics, giving the viewer their chances of being hit by a falling piece of airplane debris, getting randomly shot by an outraged postal worker, or catching the bird flu.  The introduction of this short, which concerns a group of people whose lives are spared from a church explosion, is certainly the most engaging aspect.

Following that is a featurette called “Dead Teenager Movie.”  The phrase itself was coined by film critic Roger Ebert, who reviewed the original Final Destination and enjoyed it.  The segment depicts a variety of horror movies targeting teenagers, from popular movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street to underrated gems like Campfire Tales.  This is basically an extensive analysis of teen stalker flicks with film critics and historians discussing the roots of the modern slasher genre.  Fans of horror will get a kick out of this.

Also on disc two is an extended sequence involving the police station.  It’s a good cut, but I’m glad they included it on the disc for fans to see.

Promotional material is up next, and starting them off is a 21-minute exclusive look called “Planned Accidents.” It’s like something you’d see on E! Entertainment or MTV Movie Life, in which actors talk about the movie and their roles to gain public attention.  It’s an appealing segment that I’m sure raised interest for the movie.  If you want to get down to the gritty details of moviemaking, though, definitely watch “Kill Shot: The Making of Final Destination 3” instead.  Also included in the promotional material are the theatrical trailer and three television spots.

Finally, you can enjoy some sneak peeks of movies like ATL, Grilled, A Scanner Darkly, Cyber Wars, Running Scared, and Take the Lead on disc one.


Movie: 4 Stars
Video: 4.5 Stars
Audio: 5 Stars
Features: 4.5 Stars
Overall: 4.5 Stars


Final Destination 3, the best of the series and one of the year’s best in horror, gets the proper DVD treatment it so rightfully deserves.

Purchase it now.  Just be cautious of runaway trucks on the way to the video store.


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