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Creating Final Destination: An interview with Jeffrey Reddick

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The film franchise Final Destination has managed to make over half a billion dollars over five films at the box office, and alongside the Saw films, is considered one of the pre-eminent horror franchises of the past decade.

Jeffrey RiddickIts creator, Jeffrey Reddick, came up with the idea whilst sitting on a plane himself. “The original kernel for the idea came on a flight home to Kentucky. I was reading an article about a woman on holiday in Hawaii... her mother called her and said don’t get on the plane because I have a bad feeling about it, and she actually got on another plane. The plane she was meant to be on crashed. That really put the idea in my head. Back in the day if you had an idea you had to write a script for something that already existed, so did one for the X Files. I never sent it off, but my friend at New Line Cinema thought it would make a good feature so I started fleshing the idea out. But that article was the main inspiration. I started thinking she could have died on that plane... and what if she was supposed to die?”

The original Final Destination follows a young man who has a vision that the plane he is sitting on will crash. He manages to get off the plane, along with some of his friends, and, true to his vision, the plane comes down killing everyone aboard. Over the course of the film Death itself stalks down those that escaped the plane, killing them off one by one. Though Death never has a manifestation, it nonetheless causes the survivors to die by unfortunate and often unpleasant means. “As a horror fan, I could die happy knowing I created a franchise that was different, not just a guy running around stabbing people,” Jeffrey says. “In the original draft they made me give death a corporeal form right at the end of the movie. It would’ve been a nebulous black smoke, CGI thing. But luckily, the director came on board and said he absolutely didn’t want to show anything.” Asked on whether Death being an unconventional slasher villain was part of the franchise’s success, he’s confident. “Absolutely. The films have done really well overseas and I think that’s because people can put their own views onto it. Death is just a force, it doesn’t conflict with any belief systems or non-belief systems, and I think that’s what’s made the films have such an appeal worldwide.”

Across five films and a fair few grisly deaths, it must be hard to pick a favourite. I ask Jeffrey for one anyway. “It’s more of a scene than a death,” he explains, sidestepping the admittedly macabre question. “My favourite is the log truck crash at the start of Final Destination 2. Growing up in Kentucky they were always on the road and I hated them. We couldn’t think of a good opening, but then one time I was on my way home to Kentucky – it feels like everything happens on my way home to Kentucky – and I get stuck behind one of these log trucks. So I pull over and call the producer and say ‘what about a fucking log truck’ and he thought it was awesome. David Ellis, who sadly passed away recently, directed it, and I think it’s one of the best opening sequences to a horror film I’ve ever seen. It was more down to the direction than the writing – I wrote it pretty vague and David really went to town on it.”

When considering that an idea on a plane ride turned into a half a billion dollar franchise, Jeffrey thinks that the chance of it is always in mind. “You always hope... working for a studio, you know that they’re always looking for an idea that they can turn into a franchise. So you hope that it does well, and it was a really hard sell because they couldn’t get their heads round it being Death – you can’t fight Death, but that’s the whole point! But you never, ever think it’s going to turn into a part 5.” So is there room for a sequel after Final Destination 5?” The political answer is to say that if there’s a great story that will merit another sequel then there’ll be one. But practically, Warner Brothers have had some big films not do so well at the box office lately, and for some reason these films keep making money. So I think there’ll definitely be another one. I spoke to the producer and he has a really cool idea for how to make the next one... but I can’t talk about that now!”

Tease. 




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