On Wednesday I was lucky enough to attend the sausage fest (it was hosted by a station called “Jack FM”) that was the advance screening of the latest installment of the Final Destination series. It was in 3D. This means we saw people get impaled in three dimensions. Whoa. Anyways, despite all the flashy death scenes and big Hollywood budget, this film could hold its own against any Joseph Gordon-Levitt-starring indie film in a meta-off. In fact, Final Destination 5 rivals The Iliad in the number of deep, philosophical questions it raises about life. Both stories are about gravity and grace, eros and thanatos, life and the inevitability of death. Such as:
Is ignoring knowledge immoral? Following horror genre convention, those that ignore the advice of the soothsayer (in Final Desintation’s case, whoever had the premonition) die early in the film. In general, the audience feels like this is justified, this person didn’t heed a warning, and now they must die. This means that we are effectively assigning a value to personality characteristics like ‘gullible’ vs. ‘cynical.’ But, is one really more moral or ethical or deserving of life than the other?
How can life make sense when death is so arbitrary? Sure, Final Destination adheres to scary movie norms- the misogynist asshole dies first and we all cheer, but historically all of the characters have died. Bad move for a production company trying to make a viable brand in the competitive horror genre? Maybe, but the arbitrary-ness of this also adds to the scare factor. It’s not just the assholes that deserve to die that get impaled on a sailboat, its you, me, and the girl next door.
Can you change fate? In philosophy there’s a question of whether you’re able to go into the past and kill your grandfather. The trick answer is yes, because ‘can’ implies ability and you have the ability to move your finger and pull a trigger. The most relevant question in determinism is whether you can change your destiny if you’re given knowledge of it. In Final Destination, the main cast knows they are doomed. The premise of every movie is a kid who has a premonition, sees death, and alters reality to avoid it. Missing this fate, death comes for them in other, more creative, ways.