Final Destination Almost Had a Corporeal Grim Reaper Instead of an Invisible Force



In a sea of slasher movies featuring unkillable monsters, from Jason Voorhees to Freddy Krueger, the Final Destination franchise put a new spin on the killings by having Death be an abstract concept, an invisible force that guides the movie’s victims into fatal circumstances. In a Yahoo! interview, director James Wong, who helped kickstart the franchise, revealed that the script for the first Final Destination movie featured a corporeal Grim Reaper, until Wong decided to take the story in a new direction.

“Early on, we said to each other, ‘There are too many Freddys and Jasons. We thought, ‘If you think of Death as sort of this sadistic force, what can he do to mess with you? Maybe there’s a chance you can escape it, but probably not… We always thought that Death was a sadistic SOB. So we just wanted to have fun with it. I’m still shocked that they allowed us the rights for John Denver’s songs!”

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The Final Destination movies posit a fundamental question for the slasher genre. What if the Jigsaw Killer from the Saw series had godlike powers, and the whole world was his playground, to set up traps for his victims in any way he saw fit? The result was a series of increasingly bizarre deaths for the characters in Final Destination by a seemingly invisible force. For Wong, returning to the series for the third Final Destination movie meant trying to up the ante to a somewhat ridiculous degree.

“By the third one, you go, ‘OK, this is what this is what this movie is about. This movie is about fun deaths. You want to have characters that people care about, but you also understand what the audience is looking for.”

While the Final Destination franchise is not particularly known for through-provoking content, Wong had a surprisingly philosophical end in mind for the first movie in the franchise. At first, the film was going to end with the character of Clear Rivers being revealed to be pregnant with Alex’s child. When she gives birth to the baby in the film’s final moments, she is finally able to stop Death, because, as Wong explains, “The only way to beat Death is for this new life.'”

Unfortunately, that was not the kind of life-affirming ending the film’s test audience wanted to see, and the finale received failing marks from the test screening. And so James Wong shot a new ending where the surviving characters in the movie go on vacation in Paris, and meet their demise when Death springs one final trap, particularly for the character of Carter Horton, the bully that audiences dearly wanted to see get his comeuppance:

“The criticism of the [first Final Destination] movie was that the most action-packing thing happened in the very first scene. So that’s why I came back to the producers with this whole giant [sequence], to give the audience a cathartic moment. It had to be big. Carter was the dick that people want to see die. When you did previews back then, they had all these cards saying ‘Which character did you like? Which character didn’t you like?’ And everyone hated him. So it was like, ‘He’s gotta die!'”

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Neeraj Chand


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