I’ve always been a fan of the Final Destination franchise, and it’s one of the few that I’d actually like to see continue indefinitely. Much like my favorite franchise – Friday the 13th – it has a basic formula that allows new characters to be easily plugged in for various creative death sequences with satisfactory results. While even the best franchises miss the mark from time to time, I feel that Final Destination 3 has been unfairly maligned. The film tends to be brushed off as a blemish on the franchise, but if you ask me, it holds its own among the more highly regarded entries. I’d even go so far as to say that in some ways it tops the much more popular second installment.
This year marked ten years since its theatrical release, and here are five reasons to consider watching it again (spoilers included).
1. Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Above all else, Final Destination 3 has one thing sorely lacking from the rest of the franchise: Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The movie was my first experience with Ms. Winstead though it was far from her first acting role. While she had also appeared in the previous year’s The Ring Two, she quickly established herself as a presence in our beloved genre – a presence that continues today. If you like her work in 10 Cloverfield Lane, Swiss Army Man, Faults, Death Proof, or anything else, it’s worth revisiting one of her earlier films.
2. Tony Todd and the Mystique of William Bludworth
I admit that it would have been nice to see Tony Todd back for a third round in the flesh, but we do get his voice as the devil on the ill-fated rollercoaster and as the subway station announcer at the end of the film. In fact, the more I think about this, the more I like the approach here. He could have just popped up in a forced-in scene to talk to the lead characters about death, but we already saw that twice. His voicework in FD3 adds another layer to the mystique of his character and his connection to death itself.
3. The Return of Morgan and Wong
Let me be clear. I love Final Destination 2. It has an amazing opening disaster sequence and some great kills. It’s a lot of fun. That said, the writing leaves a great deal to be desired, particularly in the dialogue department, and the acting often suffers as a result. This kind of adds to the charm and fun of watching it (another connection to the Friday franchise), but there is a noticeable improvement in quality here with FD3 if you ask me. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing award-worthy here either, and there is still the occasional cringe-worthy line, but overall, it’s a step up. This may have something to do with Glenn Morgan and James Wong, the famous X-Files duo who collaborated on the first film, returning for round 3.
I also appreciate that they tried to add another layer to death’s mythology, which was basically scrapped in the following films. In FD3, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character discovers clues about death’s design in photographs, which I find kind of interesting. At the very least, it was an attempt to do something a little different without straying too far from the “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” formula of the franchise.
4. The Kills
If there’s one thing Final Destination 2 did right it was the kills (including the epic highway pile-up premonition scene), and I’m not sure any of the subsequent films have topped 2 in this department. It’s understandable that some would be let down by FD3 after that, but if you look at FD3 by itself, it has its share of memorable kills.
The stand-outs include: the famous tanning bed sequence; Frankie’s head getting its comeuppance thanks to an engine fan from a truck that runs into his car in a fast food drive-in; Lewis getting his head crushed by weights; and my personal favorite, Erin getting a number of nails shot through her face.
5. It’s On Netflix
If you’re a Netflix subscriber, which I believe most of you probably are, you don’t have to go out of your way to find a copy of the movie or hunt it down. It’s right there waiting for you. In fact, it’s the only film in the franchise currently available to stream on Netflix.
Look, I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you that Final Destination 3 is the pinnacle of the franchise. I’m just saying it’s an entertaining entry and doesn’t deserve black sheep status. I’ve seen it quite a few times over the past decade and I can honestly say I’ve never failed to have a good time watching it.