Making death fun: How 3-D The Final Destination takes the gloom out of the doom

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Fans of the first three Final Destination movies know the franchise's appeal: the kills. Teens sliced, diced, mashed, pureed and roasted like so many potatoes.

So what can the producers do to amp up the thrill of the kill beyond coming up with ever more creative, unexpected and gruesome ways to die?

3-D, of course!

"I think we lucked out in the first one by coming up with an interesting fulcrum that we can balance a lot of things on," production company executive Craig Perry told SCI FI Wire during a set visit for the fourth installment, simply called The Final Destination, on May 15, 2008, in New Orleans. "That, married with the prospect of doing it in 3-D, facilitated us coming up with a bunch of scenarios that were fresh, original and yet familiar."

Since 2000, New Line has released a new Final Destination movie every three years. Each film has had a low budget by Hollywood standards but has delivered a big bang for the buck.

With the fourth outing, Perry explained that the goal wasn't to shoot a 3-D movie but rather to make a movie that happens to be in 3-D. He believes the technology for 3-D movies has finally made them worthwhile.

"My argument is that the Hannah Montana movie drove the notion that people will seek out 3-D as an experience," Perry said. "Just from that format, which is pretty simple—it's a concert movie—I would say with all humility that this movie will prove to people that a simple, regular movie in 3-D can be an entirely different communal experience in the theater."

Director David Ellis, who previously made Final Destination 2, described making the 3-D movie as the most fun he's ever had as a director. "What's so great about 3-D is that it's an interactive, audience-participation movie," he said.

Fun is key. The previous Final Destination films leaned toward gloom and doom, Perry said. (Appropriate, maybe, for a movie about death? We're just saying.)

Not so this time around. "We wanted to slightly change it, so that, while the tone is still very serious and people are being impacted by the deaths of people around them, there's less navel-gazing," Perry said.

The movie opens with a group of characters barely escaping being killed in a disaster at a stock car race. "That's kind of how the [characters] react to the opening set piece," Perry continued. "They're stoked that they survived, which I think is pretty real for what people would do. If you survive something, you're not going to have this little angst-ridden, hand-wringing mortality question. You're going to be like, 'I made it!'"

Perry added: "And yet—which I think is a real thing, the next step, when all of a sudden the notion that you escaped death and now it's coming back for you—that's eroding away at that 'I am completely free, and I got off scot-free.' That's one thing that I think really helped this particularly movie distinguish itself from the others, as well. It's tonally a little bit more on target to the way kids are today and the way people have been inured to the violence of spectacle and injury. They're more selfish."