From a conceptual point of view, the Final Destination franchise is impressive. In the pantheon of horror houses, it stands as close to the top as genre buffs allow it to get close to the most iconic pieces of horror in cinema history. It survived the remake crazy of the early 2000s by delivering iterations that were always successful at the box office, and people never got tired of it. After five films, the train stopped and New Line decided to give Death a rest, for now.
But again, conceptually, there’s nothing like it. And even though some viewers looked down on it because the sequels were basically a repeated trading card of the same player, it represented the economic magnet that drove teenagers into theaters. Producers even went for 3D at some point and experimented with the franchise’s narrative structure by making a prequel and closing the circle.
All this to say, it doesn’t deserve any kind of hate. These films exist for the same reason Jigsaw is still in theaters: horror audiences love to go to the theater and/or stream dumber-than-usual horror films that give them what they want. Processed and reprocessed meat that goes through the attractive grinder of horror concepts that get renewed whenever possible. The fantastic performance of Tony Todd in the franchise is the piece that holds everything together.
While we wait for news about the sixth film, let’s check out how the franchise holds up in regard to one essential element: gore. Blood and guts and violence. These are the Final Destination movies, ranked by their goriness.
5 The Final Destination
We’ll kick things off with the one you probably predicted. The Final Destination is the weakest film of the bunch in every aspect. The change in the title (did these guys really believe it would be the final destination?), the very cheesy 3D, and the excessive comedy, don’t exactly make it a favorite among fans and critics alike.
Even the opening scene in the NASCAR track is wonky. It loses the effect accomplished in previous entries. In terms of the gore content, nothing really stands out except for a hilarious pool scene in which a jock gets pulled by the pool pump from his behind, and… well, you get the idea.
There’s not anything else that’s memorable, even when a frightening everyday mechanism shows up. If your movie includes an escalator as a killing device, surely you would use it a little bit better, right? The Final Destination focuses too heavily on impressing the audience with 3D effects and not on traumatizing them as it happens with others in the franchise.
4 Final Destination 5
Final Destination 5 was a great return to the franchise’s original “look and feel”. It’s much more suspenseful. Nevertheless, 3D effects are also on display and performances are particularly terrible. But hey, it was an improvement from every angle.
The opening sequence in the bridge is very well-shot, and the visual effects are insanely good. The ending twist works very well, and it was truly unexpected for almost everyone. The comedy relief is in the hands of David Koechner, so that’s covered as well.
The gore? Well, aside from the 3D effects that don’t necessarily help, the film’s pretty solid in that department. We get a statue falling and crushing a character’s head, and a belt sander accident, among others. But a gymnastics incident remains the best: Candice dies when she misses the bars and falls to a spine-crushing death.
3 Final Destination
The first Final Destination film is very, very good. The last name references to horror icons is just one of the reasons why it remains a 2000s favorite of the genre.
It tells the story of school seniors trying to take a trip to Paris when suddenly one of them has a premonition of the plane crashing and causing absolute chaos. Of course, some get off the plane, and what do you know, it crashes. What follows is some sort of invisible grim reaper following up on the survivors who were supposed to die in the accident. And they die in the funniest and most absurd ways. Even jump scares make an appearance in this great horror spectacle.
The gore in Final Destination is not excessive. If we have to mention where it stands out, it would have to be in the plane crash sequence, where there’s just too much blood and fire. The way gorehounds like it. Other sequences like the one in the bathroom and the one with the bus, are also pretty solid in terms of the graphic violence.
2 Final Destination 2
Remember: we’re not ranking by the opening scenes of the franchise. In that case, Part 2 would surely be in the top spot. Final Destination 2 is a fan’s favorite because it represented the idea that the cool concept would be turned into a franchise with many films. Suddenly, Death acted in any way possible and even rules could be bent in favor of characters surviving, humor, and yes, absolute gore bliss.
In the second movie, the disaster takes place on a highway. After the chains of a logging truck break loose, the logs start falling into the wet asphalt (at this moment, the most memorable kill in the franchise happens), and a pile-up ensues. Of course, the girl who has the premonition prevents the other cars from entering the highway, and they all cheat Death.
The formula then calls for a legacy character to make a return, but Clear’s presence doesn’t last. After all, Death is still stalking her.
The gore content is heavy. It actually jumps the shark at some point, but it’s all good. Again, these films exist for this sole purpose. We get a fire ladder through an eye, a windowpane crushing, elevator decapitation, and more. But a favorite among fans is the barbed wire incident, in which pothead Rory is dismembered by the fence traveling at full speed.
1 Final Destination 3
Final Destination 3 is an underrated film and most fans will die on that hill. We’re talking about a roller coaster incident, proving true the fear of theme park rides that just look dangerous. After the premonition of the accident aboard the Devil’s Flight, Wendy gets hysterical and gets off the ride, as many others do.
The film then progresses into a lightweight storyline where Wendy and Kevin try to solve the riddle of Death and survivors getting killed in mysterious ways.
Gore’s a-plenty in Final Destination 3. We get tanning bed deaths, a truck engine to the back of the head, a nail gun massacre, and gym equipment attacks. Sure, the final sequence isn’t as cool as that final shot in the first film, but the third film is a solid first in the ranking for gore in the Final Destination franchise. Well, for now. Things can change in the future.