Over the weekend, my friend and I rented Final Destination 3, what film critics call a ‘Dead Teenager Movie’ because the plot of the film (ha, plot) is entirely devoted to killing off teenagers in gruesome ways. Not my genre at all; in fact, FD3 was the first ‘Dead Teenager Movie’ I’d ever seen (but not the first movie about senseless gore–I’ve seen both volumes of Kill Bill).
Now, a lot of people hold the opinion that the sort of people involved in movies like FD3 are sick, disturbed people who have an obsession for killing teens. I don’t think this is the case; in fact, I can see how killing people in creative ways could be an art form. Death, as one of the doomed teens in the movie explained, “is simply the end of biological function.” A bonus feature on the DVD, an animated short called It’s All Around You (a very practical look at death; I very highly recommend the link) said it better. After a brief discussion of probability and a look at the statistics of dying in a plane crash, of bird flu, etc., they come to a very important point at the end of the clip when they display the final statistic: “ODDS OF DYING: 1:1.”
I think this is important because a lot of people (myself included) tend to forget that. It’s not worth wasting the text to write my thoughts on that statistic, because everything I could say about it has been said (and illustrated) with more clarity in the video. However, I would like to tie it back to what I said above. The sort of people who make movies like Final Destination are not disturbed, in my opinion. They simply acknowledge this statistic for what it means: that everyone will die. And they turn that into art.
People will die, whether of heart attacks or disease or a plane crash. Speculate about the afterlife as much as you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that one day, your biological life will end. In my opinion, killing someone in a creative way is similar to showing someone break a leg or even eating and sleeping, because by all means, some people may never break their legs in their lives but everyone will die. This is the point that Final Destination tries to get across; it is not just another ‘Dead Teenager Movie’, and in fact, the ‘victims’ of FD2 weren’t teenagers at all. The creators of the Final Destination series take something natural that is of great concern and significance to each of us–death–and make it into something spectacular (and to some, entertaining). I liken it to Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds: a look at what is definitely going to come upon us that some call morbid and others call the pinnacle of sanity.
For the people who make movies like Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, though, I’m not as sympathizing or at all impressed. Death is natural for everyone, of course, but I’m not convinced that having a psycho killing off teenagers in gruesome ways is the same as death itself catching up with people that escape it in Final Destination. Taking life away is a confusing idea because practicality fades away, leaving philosophy and religion to decide how horrible a crime that is. Until we can know for sure, slasher movies are stuck between the extremes. As for myself, I can watch death catch up with people who cheat it in movies like FD3 because death will eventually happen to everyone, but I don’t think I could sit through a movie of people getting chopped up into little bits by another person.
Kill Bill was another thing altogether, I think, because anyone who has seen it would attest to the fact that it was not at all intended to be realistic or sadistic. It did involve people being chopped up by other people, but the stylish lack of realism and emphasis on plot pointed towards something else. How else to explain my positive feelings towards Kill Bill after stating that I couldn’t watch people getting chopped up eludes me, but I can’t help but think of it as art instead of pointless sadism.