Plane Perfect


4.5 Stars  2000/15/94m

“No accidents. No coincidences. No escapes. You can’t cheat death.”

Director: James Wong / Writers: Jeffrey Reddick, Glen Morgan & James Wong / Cast: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Seann William Scott, Amanda Detmer, Chad E. Donella, Tony Todd, Daniel Roebuck, Roger Guenvuer Smith.

Body Count: 5…+ 287 others

Dire-logue: “Because of you I have to sit here and watch…fucking Stuart Little.

It’s strange to think how long ago the year 2000 was in film terms, well in any terms really. I was a carefree 21-year-old lapping up any and every dead teenager film I could find. The Scream franchise ended in that year (although recent rumours may suggest otherwise) and there were a lot of theatrically released slasher flicks: Cherry Falls, Urban Legends: Final Cut, Hollow Man, Scary Movie (when it wasn’t done to death). But this one beats ‘em all.

Done to death is a fitting choice of words, as it not only describes the premise of this film, but also what’s happened to it thanks to the degrading scripts for its three sequels, the most recent of which is due out later this year. Fresh from seeing the trailer for The Final Destination, I decided to blow the dust off the original film and give it another whirl. Truth is, I dropped half a star off. Yes, it still kicks ass, the plane crash still terrifies me and the bus moment has truly become part of horror history – but, I dunno, the film kinda wore out its welcome towards the end and I got a bit bored, my index finger flirting with the fast-forward option.


As if it needs introduction, Final Destination quite blatently re-tells the story of TWA 800 for its opening shock. High-schooler Alex (Sawa – where’d his career go?) is off to Paris on a class trip and is a little anxious about the 7-hour flight. And so he should be, no sooner are they off the ground, than the Boeing 747 starts to shake, rattle n’ roll, the cabin loses pressure, the fuselage splinters, kids get blown out into the void and they’re eventually eaten up by a wall of fire – then he wakes up. Minor coincidences tell him this was no dream and he causes a ruckus that gets him, five other students and a teacher ejected from the flight, which then explodes minutes later, much to the shock of those who were yelling at him seconds beforehand.


It’s the perfect urban legend. We only need to look at the aftermaths of similar incidents to read those stories of lucky souls who missed their plane to gauge what an impressive concept we’ve been given here. A few weeks after the incident, Alex finds his fellow ejectees start dropping dead in increasingly bizarre ways. A contrived trip to the morgue with weird girl Clear (Larter) culminates in a meeting with Tony Todd’s gravel-voiced mortician, who informs them that they cheated death, so now it’s coming back to collect on the debt. Ergo, instead of your standard whodunit, Final Destination is, rather, a howdunit


The victims are stalked by a dark blobby shadow that has the power to make taps leak, but more often than not just capitalises on the mistakes of its quarry: stepping out into the road, drinking vodka from a broken mug, slipping over on to wires etc. The deaths are impressively choreographed, occasionally funny and liberally bloody, though not nearly as much as in the follow-ups and often forecast by images and factors seen earlier on. The cast gel together impressively, with character traits and flaws used to give a dimension all but entirely absent in the ensuing films; Sawa is a good reluctant psychic and Larter an interesting heroine and their friends slightly less developed but equally affected by the guilt from surviving the plane crash.


Because of the gravity of the plane crash and it’s terrifyingly realised effects work, things can only go down hill to an extent: no matter how creative death is, it can’t compare. Supposed rules governing the order in which the victims die are interesting but became suffocating in the sequels and tie-in novels and the shocker ending chosen over the original, softer final scene cemented the franchise, with a new film surfacing only every three years. Sounds like I’m down on the sequels, but I liked them – more than that, Final Destination 2 is loads of fun, 3 was good but sleazy and I imagine 4/The will follow the tried and tested plan. The fact that there’s no T&A in the first one is telling. Try to forget how contrived the whole concept became and enjoy it for what it is.

"I'll see you soon... I've signed on for the sequel."

“I’ll see you soon… I’ve signed on for the sequel.”

Blurbs-of-interest: Larter and Todd returned in Final Destination 2 and Todd was back again for the fifth movie, and can also be seen in Scarecrow Slayer, iMurders, two of the Hatchet films, and Jack the Reaper ; Kerr Smith appeared in the 3D remake of My Bloody Valentine. Kristen Cloke was in the Black Christmas remake, that was produced and directed by writer Glen Morgan.

Suffer (because of) the little children

thechildrenTHE CHILDREN

4 Stars  2008/18/81m

“You brought them into the world. They will take you out.”

Director: Tom Shankland / Writers: Paul Andrew Williams & Tom Shankland / Cast: Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield, Rachel Shelley, Hannah Tointon, Eva Sayer, Raffiella Brooks, Jake Hathaway, William Howes.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: Casey – “Have you ever heard of feminism?” Jonah – “Has it got anything to do with self-absorbed lazing around?”

Those of us who don’t have children can’t always understand the behaviours of those who do, it’s more evident if your brothers and sisters have kids. They become over-sensitive to their surroundings, potential influences and would happily see you burnt at the stake before admitting their offspring was the one who actually scribbled all over the wallpaper.

In Tom Shankland’s entirely chilling story, two ‘picture perfect’ families gather to ring in New Year’s at a secluded mock-tudor neo-mansion in a snowy December. Elaine and Jonah have brought their kids Miranda and autistic Paulie, as well as Elaine’s teen daughter Casey to her sister Chloe (bit of a showy bitch) and brother-in-law Robbie’s place, where they want to home school their Kodak-kids Nicky and Leah. It’s all catalogue-shine and barely contained quips as the sisters try to out-Mom each other to prove who’s best, while Jonah chisels away at Robbie in the hope of an investment for importing some Chinese herbs or something, and Casey just wants to be able to use her phone.

children1The little kids, all under 10, are acting a bit weird. They feel sick and we see that there are icky, multiplying germs around them. The joyous facade begins to fall apart at the seams when the family cat vanishes and the kids all go haywire over lunch, soon escalating into the death of hunky dad Robbie in what’s been made to look like a sledging accident but is anything but! Chloe goes ape and Casey begins to suspect the children as they fail to emote, unless their crying and whining is to trick the next schmuck into wandering into their trap!

The Children has a bold sense of grit – common in British horror – and doesn’t shy away from showing its criticism of modern ‘over-parenting’ as some of the adults simply won’t accept their kids are anything but angelic cherubs from heaven and would rather blame anything or anyone else for the unfolding terror, namely Casey. It also doesn’t shy away from the deaths of the kids at the hands of their parents as self defence becomes the only option (though why they don’t just knock them out with a golf club and lock them away, I’m not sure). (Some of) the children are killed quite mercilessly, the kind of thing you just don’t see on your TV! It’s a brave step, one that would sink a film of a larger, starrier proportions, but as a micro-budgeted indie flick, who’s gonna notice?

children2Definitely not one to show pregnant cousin Sally or those X4-driving Mums outside school, they’re likely to get more violent than anything shown on screen at the mere suggestion of killer kids getting killed back! Shankland, who directed W Delta Z (Waz), is a talented helmer, making great use of the sparse landscape and doe-eyed psychopaths as they glare at their doomed makers. It’s slash that doesn’t really adhere to being slash but still kinda is, albeit with a 28 Days Later type creepy ending. Additional points for the presence of bona fide eye-candy Sheffield.

Blurbs-of-interest: Jeremy Sheffield played Guy in Creep; Rachel Shelley was the heroine in Lighthouse.

Harper’s Island: Episodes 7 & 8

harpersCumilative body count so far: 14

Dire-logue: “Terrified, unskilled people should not be handling weapons.”

With the murders out in the open, Episode 7 takes us into flashback territory. Groan. Ergo, things are padded out with Abby and Jimmy’s blossoming relationship and John Wakefield’s murder spree that claims her Mom.

We also meet Cole Harkin, a deputy who’s burnt up by an explosion rigged by Wakefield – he’s pally with J.D., who is now the chief suspect. Trish is having second thoughts about Henry and the frat boys discover Mal’s secret and the truth about Booth (complete with rhyme!) which culminates in Ep. 7’s one and only murder, which is a bit of a lamo off-camera affair… Things end with creepy kid Madison receiving a note “from Daddy” (who’s, like, dead) and entering a room where the door is slammed shut.

The wedding party attempt to leave but Madison’s disappearance keeps the main set at the Candlewick looking for her. Abby, Henry and Katherine discover Richard’s body and Abby gets a call from Madison claiming that if anybody leaves the island, they’ll die! (how, we don’t know – maybe the killer can fly too). Said killer breaks J.D. out of jail by shooting a nameless deputy and the killer strikes twice more before the end of the episode, which also sees disharmony between the guests, who think they’re immune from the hitlist because it’s mainly the Wellington’s who are under fire.

I’m still banking on my suspect of a few episodes ago, now as one half of a psycho duo, but wish they’d start offing some of the look-a-likey female characters – isn’t that what this genre’s supposedly all about? Not much bloodshed this week, but Abby is still at the centre of things… But why?


houseofwaxHOUSE OF WAX

3 Stars  2005/15/113m

“Prey. Slay. Display.”

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra / Writers: Charles Beiden, Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes / Cast: Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Jared Padalecki, Paris Hilton, Jon Abrahams, Robert Ri’chard.

Body Count: 6

There are a lot of reasons that we should hate House of Wax: it’s a remake, it’s chock full of unrealistically good looking teen stars from various TV shows and Paris Hilton’s in it. Yes, America’s answer to Jodie Marsh (*shudder*) previously had a small role in the craptacular Nine Lives where she played a catty American fashionista (a stretch) and here, as girlfriend to Elisha Cuthbert’s textbook heroine, she does pretty well with the role and had to suffer much of the film’s advertising campaign centering around the opportunity to see her die!

Elisha and Paris are girlfriends to a couple of guys heading to a big football game; Jared Padalecki is Elisha’s squeeze and they are irritated by the presence of her twin brother Chad Michael Murray and his dorky buddy. Paris’s BF is – gasp! – black and doesn’t get much to do for the entire film. They camp out and the next morning find one of the cars immobile so Elisha and Jared stick around to go and find a new car part while the others skip off to their sacred game.

how1They end up in the tiny township of Ambrose, home to Trudy’s House of Wax (“it is wax – literally!”) and Jared is then captured by a looney psycho while Elisha tries to run away from the not-so-friendly gas station attendant. This all happens about fifty minutes into the film, having up until now featured very few scary things, although the DVD features a cut scene featuring the murder of a broken down motorist. Of course, we figured out ages ago that everyone in the town is made of wax and this happens to Jared, who is stripped, shaved and placed in a bizarro wax-shower thing that turns him into another model for the museum.

how6The others return and Chad and his dumbass friend go looking for his sister, split up, and one finds the gas station, the psycho therein and a finger-snipped Elisha while dumbass friend finds waxy-Jared and the sharp ends of a couple of knives that cut his head off. Paris and her BF get murdered next, hers is a protracted chase through a rusty old parking garage, reminiscent of Wendy’s chase in Prom Night, until the moment 95% of the audience bought their tickets for occurs and the killer skewers her with a rusty javelin, right through the head!


Chad and Elisha are soon running for their lives and set a fire which begins melting the House of Wax from within, which looks pretty cool until the effects department evident got bored and just started to play around with the picture by bending it like the state-of-the-art special effects from Earthquake. In 1974.

how3Grinding on towards the two hour mark makes House of Wax a bit of a chore from time to time, but it’s actually a fun slasher romp with some neat ideas and grisly murders. Paris does okay with her “slutty blonde victim” part and the waxy finale is something we’re unlikely to see anywhere else. Most definitely not for discriminating horror fans, but if you’re game for some trashy entertainment and well-executed executions, then you could do a lot worse.

how4Blurbs-of-interest: Jared Padalecki graduated to a surviving role for the Friday the 13th remake; Jon Abrahams was in Scary Movie. Casting-bod Mary Gail Artz was an actor in Don’t Go in the Woods.

Chucky in no way endorses this product

sweetinsanitySWEET INSANITY

1 Stars  2006/15/81m

“Meet the new girl.”

A.k.a. Stranger: A Soulmate of Chucky

Director: Daniel Hess / Writers: Daniel Hess & Adam Weis / Cast: Rebekah Isaacs, Mackenzie Firgens, David Fine, Corbett Tuck, Jeff Bell, Josh McRae, Cory Knauf, Vanessa Motta, Shawn Bohigian, Christopher Ratti, Ryan Nixon, Sam Kraus.

Body Count: 9

Bargain basement video sludge with high-schooler Stacey’s parents off on vacation for the weekend, allowing a gaggle of her friends to stop by, drink beer, and get stabbed, slashed and pick-axed by a shadowy killer, who looks most likely to be either Stacey’s weird neighbour – a shamed cop who shot a kid – or is it her new gal-pal Christina, a goth chick whom only Stacey seems to be able to see…?

Bizarrely, the UK DVD for this film is titled Stranger: A Soulmate of Chucky! Look, there’s even a creepy doll on the cover…

strangerIs there a murderous doll in the film? No. Is there a creepy doll in the background? No. Does anyone mention dolls in any way, shape or form? No. This title shall forever remain a mystery, methinks.

Anyway, the ending is kind of Haute Tension-esque by way of Identity, and may require a second look to cement what the writer’s are proposing here and also because the sound is so bad the dialogue is often inaudible. A laughable film with maybe a semi-interesting idea and a decent powertool murder as all there is to recommend it. Well, not recommend… Another word that means sort of the same thing without committing myself to being responsible when you go and rent it. I stand by my one-star!

Blurb-of-interest: David Fine was also in 7eventy 5ive.

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