Where Genres Go to Die

He sees you when you're sleeping...

May 12, 2011

Did we forget how to do horror?

Look, I’ll be the first to say that watching a bunch of dumb white kids go after weird noises and die ironic and elaborate deaths at the hand of a lovable sociopath is fun. I’ll be the first to say that a creepy sound in a quiet room can make most of us jump. I will admit that a well-done horror movie gets the blood pumping and the adrenalin going. A really good horror film can be an exercise in suspense, drama, and character growth.

This, I guarantee you, is none of those.

Yes, the franchise that just won’t die, even with a Mozambique Drill, napalm, and a kryptonite shiv in its back, is back for another installment. This time, it seems as if Death collapses a bridge and the survivors must once again try to outrun Death much the way trees outrun winter. This time, if the trailer is to be believed, the rules have changed!


Maybe Death got a gun and became more efficient.

Seriously, though, I remember when the first movie came out. The idea seemed interesting, if claustrophobic. If Death is after you, game over. How do you escape something like that? Well, according to the movie, you don’t. Big whoop. Even Ali Larter, who managed to survive in two installments, finally met her fiery end.

Death Is Only A Game by *wyldraven on deviantART

This film series, along with the many Saw remakes, are part of the reason torture porn is getting such a bad rep. Pretty much any slasher film will contain violent and gory shots, but that isn’t tension. I love a gory shot… if it has some sort of context. The Final Destination movies are really just a series of scenes wherein everything from a pebble to an escalator can kill you. There is no tension. You know people are going to die. The only question is the how. If we focus on one character, hey, guess what? That character’s dead. There is no getting around it.

Oddly, one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in the last few years is gorier and bloodier than the Final Destination films. Hatchet has about as clichéd a set-up as possible. Tourists go into the New Orleans bayou and encounter an undead hulk that butchers them with everything from the titular hatchet to a sander.

The difference? There was an actual sense of drama as to who would die and when. People had options. They made plans that didn’t actually depend on a deus ex machina coming in and killing them in the most contrived way possible. I know, I know. In most slasher films, you have to assume virtually no one will survive, but Final Destination takes away any pretense of drama and just shows us people being tortured because Death is far too much of a dick to just give you a heart attack or drop you out of a window.

It has to take you out with Freddy Krueger-like flair.

Well, link time.

  • Cats are agile stalkers, athletic paragons of grace… or are they? This one certainly isn’t.
  • And finally (yeah, short list today), in case you wanted to get the gist of the entire Final Destination series, here is every death in the movies set to some… appropriate music. See you Monday!

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