The opening of “Final Destination” is extremely graphic and provocative. The title of the film; “Final Destination” immediately connects and provokes thoughts in the viewer about a journey which has to end. The opening credits and the title are written in bright lettering, on a dark background. As they come into focus, they split and become fragmented. The words take different paths and fade out. The film is about taking different paths and splitting up, but ultimately reaching the same fate.
At the beginning of the opening sequence, we see and hear a flashing bolt of lightning, which cuts to and image of a window. For a split second, we see a demonic face staring through the window, which now has rain spattering down it. The figure is that of a china doll, clown-like; mimicking death. This begins the theme of death and dying, which are portrayed in many different ways throughout the film.
As the camera moves away from the wet window, the creepy face again comes into view. The flash was a preview of what we can now see. The face is hanging from a wire, and this could be one of the different paths. Later on in the film, Todd is killed by a wire. The camera then pans over to an extreme close up of a whirring fan. This is a metonymic shot; we can only see part of the beastly fan, but our minds can create the rest of the image. The fan, a figure used throughout these opening credits, is portrayed as ghastly, and can easily be compared to the jet engine of the plane.
The camera then sweeps onto the bed, and zooms in to reveal another extreme close up of a passport and airline ticket belonging to Alex Browning, the main character. Within this close up shot, the camera focuses on the words, “Flight 180,” and “13th May.” This is significant to the rest of the film, as it deeply sets the scene, and it becomes apparent that Flight 180 will be the Final Destination. Also, the number thirteen is commonly associated with bad luck, and this is important to note. Next, the viewer hears a harsh, metallic sound, similar to that of a knife scarping. We see lightning again, this time slower, forking through the sky, possibly imitating a plunging knife.
The next shot adds to the prominence of death and suffering. The camera zooms in to a bookshelf, one book falls, and the camera zooms in again, focusing on “A Death of a Salesman.” This is vital to the setting and psychological feel of the film, as it is another title, eerily associated with dying and scariness. Again, the camera moves back onto a fan, this time revolving. This has seemed to become a main focus of the director.
It is a reoccurring image of slicing and dicing, a nasty image of death and execution. This theme of execution is revealed once more in the next sequence, where we see pages flicking by the fan, and an extreme close up of a page titled “A History Lesson” which shows a brutal execution. The image on the page is tinted red, not just because it’s an old book, but also because red is the colour of blood. This induces the mind to think of pain and suffering, death and a bloody end.
Next, an unfamiliar book is shown, the pages sharply flicking by, slicing through the air, with the sound of swishing blades: blades that cause unhappiness and pain. Later in the film, Alex’s teacher is almost killed, when a block of knives edges closer. The knives are shiny and reflective, as is the fan in the next part of the opening credits. This feeling returns us to the fan. This time, the director humanizes the fan, its head slowly moving, reflecting the room in the shiny metal plates. It slowly turns, as if looking for prey, and then suddenly and unexpectedly whizzes past, as if swooping towards its unlucky target. It then starts to move slowly again, turning.
The camera returns to books again, this time flicking through quicker and unsteadily. The pages suddenly stop, as if the fan had been switched off or stopped, and a priestly figure is shown on the page of the book. Another flash, and a demonically sick figure of evil is painted, again tinted red. This isn’t frightening, but really hits the viewer hard in the stomach and causes a huge adrenaline rush of fear.
As the final image appears, the words “This is the End” slowly come into view, painted in a gruesome red blood colour and font, against a fading black background. This is particularly ironic, as it is the beginning of the film, yet also the end. This clich “beginning of the end” is commonly used when describing death or pain, and the viewer is left pondering whether it’s the beginning of the end for Alex Browning, someone else, or life itself. The blood writing is also very important. A lot of blood is used in this film, to convey the true horror and brutality of the deaths of the students. Each of the deaths has been made as bloody as possible, and this is continued throughout “Final Destination.”
In the opening credits, the music is continually minor. This minor key creates and eerie mood throughout. It is creepy, and reminds the viewer of Transylvanian funeral music, punishing and challenging. Using a combination of sharp chords and diminishing notes, the film inducts fright into the reader, and has terror eating at the viewers ankles. For the greater part, the music is slow, harshly depicting the future of Alex Browning, and together with the imagery and colour of the scene, illustrates an emotional and poignant piece of film.
A lot of cross-cutting is used during the opening sequence of the film. The camera dollies the sides of desks, the bed, and this represents the many different paths that are available throughout the film. In ‘Final Destination,’ there is such a range of options and choices to be made, and the flickering of books, the sudden change of image and the abstract focus on death show that although there are many pathways, they all lead to the same fate.
Almost every camera shot used in the opening of the film is some form of close up. There are one or two medium shots, which pan and zoom into close-ups. This increases the emphasis and focuses in on certain points. The viewer can see things much clearer, and does not just get a brief outline of subsequent events. Also, a few of these capturing shots are sudden, and frighten the reader before he/she thinks about the image, thus provoking them even more.
The lighting in the first few minutes of Final Destination is very dim for the majority of the sequence. Apart from certain imagery, the opening words for example, and the lightning, the light is low. The director tends to stick to using dark and sombre colours, to induce a solemn yet panicked mood. These vibrant flashes of colour raise the viewer’s heartbeat, and increase the tension that the film produces.
The director, James Wong, uses evocating sequences and confrontational combinations of his wild ideas to create the intense first minutes of the film. It has been made in incredible detail and raises deep thought and fear in the person watching. From viewing the opening credits of the film, one can easily understand the meaning of the symbolism so effectively portrayed, and the viewer is on the edge of their seat, waiting for the “Final Destination.”