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Is Final Destination 5 the best sequel ever made?

The Final Destination franchise - where every film starts with someone having a premonition, a bunch of teenagers escape death, but then death catches up and kills them in elaborate ways - has always sat on my "yeah I like it, but don't fangirl for it" film list.

I've always loved the concept of the films - that death has a design and no one can cheat it - and the kills are always brilliantly creative (if unlikely), but the annoying teenage characters grated on me. And, unlike many franchises, there wasn't a consistent final girl to root for or a villain to hate. What all the films have in common is the idea and concept, rather than a character, location, or backstory.

Currently, James A Janisse of Dead Meat YouTube fame (who is one of my favourite creators and every horror fan should be following him) is covering the Final Destination franchise on his Kill Count series. So far he has covered films 1-4, all of which I have seen and I pleasantly enjoyed James's snarky commentary. So in preparation for him covering Final Destination 5 next week, I decided to pop it on Netflix for some Friday night wild times. 

Since the fourth film, The Final Destination, was a hot piece of garbage (and just the low-standards that tend to plague sequels in general, let alone the 5th instalment) I went in there with really low expectations. 

But instead, 

I found, 


the world's 

greatest film sequel, 


I'm going to warn you now, that this blog post is not a review but instead a mind-dump of OHMYGODHOWFUCKINGCOOLWASTHAT? There's a massive twist at the end, which is foreshadowed throughout but I still didn't see it coming, and I will be revealing it in a few sentences. 

So, like, go watch it first and then come back and squee with me in the comments. 

You also need to very familiar with the franchise to appreciate the twist when it comes.

But those of you who know what happens, let's hyperventilate over everything Final Destination. 

Are your eyes away now?

The outdated cultural references felt out of place but I put it down to poor scriptwriting. Even when they talked about moving to Paris the whole fucking movie I didn't make the connection with the first film. When they got on the plane my initial reaction was "why are they doing a plane scene again? You did that in the first fucking film. Have we ran out of elaborate death ideas?". 

It wasn't until I saw Kerr Smith being dragged off the plane by security that I was like HOLY FUCKING BATMAN THIS WAS A PREQUEL THE ENTIRE TIME AND THEY ARE GOING TO FUCKING DIE ON THE PLANE CRASH FROM THE FIRST FILM. 

It hit me like a bus. 

LOL. I make myself laugh (if no one else).

The only clue in the film that really stood out to me, but I ultimately put it down to a scriptwriting choice, was that they never made reference to the other films. In the other sequels, the teenagers received guidance from news stories and commentary about Flight 180 - and in the second film, they even sought the consult of a survivor. As noticeable as this was to me, I just got annoyed about it rather than making the connection that this film was set before the events of the first film. My internal dialogue was wondering why the characters weren't Googling their way out of this situation - but duh: smartphones weren't a thing circa the millennium and most homes still had dial-up.

The only advice they received was from the Coronor who randomly walks up to them at a funeral.

The filmmakers also created a nice balance between sneaking in a few nods to early 00s culture and technology, while not going so overboard that you immediately realise that this film is set in the past. There was a flip cell phone at one point (which I didn't notice), and there was a Lisa Lobe reference (which I did notice, and was like "wasn't that the chick who had one big song in the 90s then...nothing" I was nine when the millennium passed, so I wasn't super culturally-aware yet).

But there was something about the decision to return to the first film that stood out to me culturally, but only after I realised what was happening. Both films are set in 2000, but the second film was actually released in 2009. And between 2000 and 2009, the world witnessed 9/11 which had a big impact on the entertainment industry.

The first Final Destination film is painfully pre-9/11. To clarify, the first Final Destination film, where an aeroplane blows up, was released 18 months prior to 9/11 - which is uncomfortably close. If someone who is old enough to remember 9/11 watches Final Destination, without knowing its release date and storyline, they might find it a bit jarring as clothing, actors, and technology give away that its an early 00s film and was culturally in the same time frame as 9/11.

Final Destination 3 did come under fire for referencing 9/11 in a photograph.

(We also know, that these days, someone screaming "the plane will crash" will probably be shot straight in the chest, even in films.).

But because 9/11 is too powerful an event to ignore, filmmakers tend to stay clear of blowing planes up. That's why the return to the first film took me a little by surprise. The first film was made in a pre-9/11 world, while the last was made in a post-9/11 world (even if it was set at the turn of the millennium). But they looped it right back. Don't get me wrong, I'm not offended by it and I don't think we should ban film producers from using planes as plot devices, but it was a reason why the decision stood out to me. 

However, it wasn't just the twist at the end that made Final Destination 5 such a great sequel.

Firstly, the opening sequence. Most of the opening premonitions in the Final Destination franchise play on our biggest fears: flying, car crashes, and rollercoasters (but weirdly the fourth film went for a race track blowing up?). The final film goes for a bridge falling apart. Now, I don't know about you, but bridges have always made me feel uneasy. I'm not afraid of them to the point where I'll plan my entire journey to avoid them. But when I'm on one, I am consciously aware of how far off the ground (or water) I am. That's why this opening sequence unnerved me more than the others.

Secondly, the characters are fleshed out. As mentioned at the start, the Final Destination films throw stereotypical teenagers together, then concentrates on creating gory deaths. That's cool. But it's also the reason I don't think I've ever been a massive fan. They spend a lot more time on character development in this film, where the characters all know each other already (through work). Especially Peter, who develops trauma off the back of his near-death experience where he then has to discover that death will catch up with him anyway! Once upon a time, we showed trauma survivors to be "strong" and ready to prove everyone wrong, but it's becoming more common to show characters with PTSD symptoms.

Then there was the extra mythology. Since these young adults, are (chronologically) the first people to cheat death in the franchise, they don't have previous experiences to rely on. So the writers had some fun with the advice given by the coroner. The new tweak to the formula? If you kill someone else you can take their place within the living, as death will accept their life instead. This is questionably not correct as Peter does take the detective's life and then Sam takes Peter's life - but Sam and Molly still die? But it was still an interesting take on how death works and adds an extra philosophical question to the theory of death's design.

Then finally: the elaborate deaths. Now, this has always been something that the Final Destination franchise has done well. But what I really liked about the deaths in Final Destination 5 is that they were in, some ways, more believable. I, for one, am creeped out by the concept of laser eye surgery (or things coming near my eye, full stop) so a death scene involving a burnt eye got right under my skin. Then there was a gymnastic routine gone wrong (though, I did burst out laughing) and there was a straight-up murder. Then the eventual plane crash that killed Sam and Molly wasn't overly far-fetched either (previous instalments have had people flattened by signs and bathtubs falling through ceilings). It taps into real fears, albeit in an elaborate way.

And oh, the final scene of Final Destination 5 is in sync with the plane crash from the first film:

Final Destination 5 wrapped up the franchise nicely, and I hope it gets left alone. A reboot in another decade could work. As would a tv, stage, or graphic novel adaption. But this timeline of events is one that has nicely tied up loose ends and it would be great to see it left the way it is. 
morag | mo adore
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Fringe Favourites: Cruel Intentions the 90s Musical

Cruel Intentions
© The Other Richard

Love or hate it, nostalgia is big right now. Film directors, theatre companies, games producers, and record labels are cashing in on our desire to relive decades gone by. And why not? It's a widely known part of the human experience that we hold the biggest place in our hearts for the pop culture of our childhood and teenage years. I can't name a single Billie Ellish song (but I know who she is, I'm not that out of touch) but ask me to recite every song from Green Day's American Idiot album and I'm your girl.

So obviously the Edinburgh Fringe is chock full of acts attempting to tap into everyone's inner teenager. But the performance that is shouting the loudest (if posters could shout) is the musical adaption of Cruel Intentions

Cruel Intentions is a bit of a random film to adapt. I was just short of being a teenager in 1999, and while the film did perform well, it didn't have the same pop culture influence that Clueless or Mean Girls did. And as much as Sarah Michelle Geller was in her prime in the late 90s, these days we never really see her (see this YouTube video for a quick analysis as to why). Despite being a film I've always enjoyed, it doesn't stand out as one of the big ones. 

But the producers were smart and decided to tap into the audience's nostalgia for all things the 90s. In addition to bringing the story and dialogue to the stage, they sprinkled some of the most recognisable pop songs from the 90s into the script. We're talking Britney Spears, N*SYNC, TLC, Goo Goo Dolls, Natalie Imbruglia and the Dawson's Creek soundtrack. And they made reference to AOL Chat and other 90s peculiarities. 

Before I went into the theatre, I knew that this formula had the potential to really work...or fall flat on its face. 

Thankfully, it really worked. 

The singing from every cast member was on-point, Rebecca Gilhooley perfectly impersonated Sarah Michelle Geller's accent, Sophie Isaacs physically resembles Reese Whitherspoon, and a special shout out to Evelyn Hoskins for nailing the cringier scenes in her over-the-top take on the naive Cecile.

The musical adaptation also stays true to the original film but does soldier through it at a very quick pace (there's no interval). And as you would expect from any musical adaption, it is much campier than the original film (which wasn't very campy at all).

They performed the musical adaption in a pop-up marquee in George Square Gardens, which did mean they were limited by their performance space. Throughout the performance, they kept the same set that consisted of two chaise lounge-style benches (which wouldn't have looked out of place in the original film). A great set is difficult to acquire if you're limited by cost or space. And sometimes stretching a production budget to create visual set changes can make the audience painfully aware of how little budget you have (or at least it can for me). But the decision to make just one setup work for the entire show simplified the performance and meant the audiences' focus was on the story.

Saying that, if this musical gains traction (which I think it will) I would love to see what they could do with a proper stage set up and team. But I'm thankful the kept it simple at this stage.

Was it a high-brow Shakespearean play? Absolutely not. Was it fun? Hell yes. If fun pop songs make you break out in a rant about manufactured bands who don't write their own songs, then Cruel Intentions The 90s Musical is not for you. And if you didn't live through the 90s (did you know that people born in 2000 can now legally drink alcohol? Mental) then some of the references might be lost on you. 

But if you like the original film and still boogie in your room to the Backstreet Boys, then Cruel Intentions The 90s Musical comes highly recommended. 
morag | mo adore
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What relationship anarchy means for me and how it shows up in my life

Back in April, I wrote a personal blog post exploring my (and society's!) feelings towards romantic attraction.

Within this post, I provided a brief overview of a few labels people use to wrap up their romantic attraction into one succinct word. For me personally, the two labels that I identify with are relationship anarchist and grey-romantic.

(Don't like labels? Tough! They help people - like myself - who don't fit the heteronormative babies and a house in the suburbs narrative understand our needs and feel less like freaks).

Today I want to focus on Relationship Anarchy and how it shows up in my life in a practical sense. I also have a similar blog post penned for grey-romanticism, but that's another few weeks away. An important thing to remember about Relationship Anarchy is that, in its essence, it allows people to have platonic, romantic, sexual, and familial relationships in a way that feels right for them and removes the hierarchy that some relationships should automatically be more important than others.

From the Relationship Anarchy Manifesto:

Relationship anarchy questions the idea that love is a limited resource that can only be real if restricted to a couple. You have the capacity to love more than one person, and one relationship and the love felt for that person does not diminish love felt for another. Don’t rank and compare people and relationships — cherish the individual and your connection to them. One person in your life does not need to be named primary for the relationship to be real. Each relationship is independent, and a relationship between autonomous individuals.
Please bear in mind that I'm about to talk about how Relationship Anarchy shows up for me personally, it is not how it will show up for everyone - because the whole point of Relationship Anarchy is doing what feels right for you (but with consent and communication!).

I don't consider a romantic relationship to be something that I must have

If I was to conjure up my ideal life, yes, I would have one (or multiple) steady romantic/sexual partner(s). But it's not something that keeps me awake at night. I've been legally single (notice the terminology; I'll expand on that in a bit) for almost a decade, and I'm completely okay with that (despite the aghast faces that some people will make when they find out).

It hurts my feelings that my family show no interest in my platonic relationships

Hi family, if you're reading! I doubt my parents (and especially my wider family) could tell my adult friends apart from each other. But if a serious romantic partner entered the picture, my parents would be on the first train to Glasgow and they'd be invited for Christmas. My platonic relationships mean a lot to me, and it does bother me that my family see these relationships as not worth paying attention to.

And I hate going to weddings alone

When did we decide the societal norm that plus ones to weddings have to be a serious romantic partner? Even a co-worker who will literally not know one other person at your wedding will be expected to turn up themselves?

I was having this chat with my partnered friend recently who said it annoyed her as well. Her reasoning: what if my partner is busy? Is she not allowed to take another person?

I'm not opposed to marriage, and if I do have a wedding the ceremony itself will be close friends and family but the reception can be anyone I'm friendly with - and everyone gets a plus one, regardless of relationship status.

I've had more casual relationships than serious relationships

The idea of casual relationships still gets some people's backs up. My response? If you don't like them, then don't have one.

For me, a casual relationship involves all the romance and sex that a serious relationship might have - but, yes, without the commitment. Having a relationship without commitment does not make someone a horrible person. It's just the right choice for them.

I think there's a difference between a romantic relationship and a romantic partner

To me, any relationship that is romantic counts as a romantic relationship - no matter how serious, or non-commital, it is. If it's romantic, it's romantic. Even if you choose never to label it or tick the milestones that all romantic couples are expected to.

But not every romantic relationship will be a romantic partnership. To me, a romantic partnership is when you partner with someone and commit your life to them: living together, joint bank accounts, children, marriage etc.

And it sometimes catches people really off-guard (on a date) when I ask if they are looking for a serious partnership or just a romantic relationship. Think of it in terms of polyamory: primary partner versus secondary partner. Your love for the secondary partner might be true, but you've chosen to commit yourself to the first partner. 

Some people still automatically baulk at this and accuse me of wasting my time. Look, it's my time. And it's my decisions. Non-serious romantic relationships are a common thing in Relationship Anarchy and Polyamorous circles.

I'm not opposed to a romantic partner, but they'd have to be incredible

As I mentioned earlier, my ideal life would involve a steady romantic/sexual partner. However, I don't crave one badly enough that I would reduce my standards. I see some people happily agree to be someone's partner after a few dates (how? you've met them three times?). If I'm going to partner with someone and factor them into every big life choice I make, then they're going to have to be incredible (and want similar things from life).

I am open to polyamory

Relationship Anarchy and polyamory have a lot of overlap. I mean, if you reject the societal expectation of a romantic partner being your everything then surely you're open to having more than one partner?

Not necessarily.

For me, non-monogamy is one of those bridges I'll cross, if and, when I meet someone I want to enter a formal relationship with (I do, however, have a strict rule than a casual romantic partner can never expect monogamy of me). My ideal scenario is one formal romantic/sexual partner with a few sidepieces (for a lack of better term). However, it's not a dealbreaker and I am open to negotiating the boundaries (even agreeing to make the relationship monogamous).

For those of you familiar with non-monogamy, you'll be aware that having a primary partner is sometimes seen as mock-monogamy and doesn't work in practice. I completely agree with this and get why polyamorous relationships should be free-flowing, and demanding that your partner doesn't fall in love with a secondary partner is just unrealistic. But because I so rarely meet people I want to partner with, I know the chances of me having more than one committed partner is an unlikely scenario. But if two emerge, then I'll cross that bridge.

Couples who do everything together confuse me

Almost every time I'm out shopping I see a grumpy male partner moaning because their female partner dragged them to the shops against their will. Can the girl not go shopping herself? Ask her friend who enjoys shopping to accompany her instead? Can the man not say no?

Yes, couples need to spend time together and sometimes you need to suck things up. But those sucking things up should be important things - like shopping together for a new kitchen or attending a family wedding. Quality couple time should be a meaningful activity for both of you.

This is why I love to have multiple relationships in my life - whether familial, platonic, or romantic. It means that I'm never dragging people to things against their will, and I'm never being dragged to things against my will. If you have hobbies that no one in your circle shares, then feel free to go out and find people who do share those hobbies with you. You're not balled and chained.

When I am in a relationship, I maintain a life outside it

Granted, I haven't been in a Facebook-official relationship for eight years but when I have done the Big Official Meet The Parents Relationship, I didn't glue myself to the person.

How other people structure their relationships is not my business, and if someone wants their romantic partner to be their sole source of social and emotional support then that's their choice. But I've always found it draining when someone I'm dating expects 24/7 attention or gets weird about me maintaining strong friendships (fun fact: I am platonically and romantically attracted to people who have a lot going on in their lives - and everyone I've ever had a big crush on or fallen in love with had some kind of big hobby they loved with a passion).

I specifically crave a romantic/sexual relationship for romantic/sexual needs

While I might be grey-romantic, I'm not 100% aromatic and I'm definitely allosexual. So I still crave romance and sex, albeit maybe not the first one as much as other. That's why my ideal life would still involve a romantic/sexual partner. And I know that sex with someone you love and feel comfortable with is an incredible experience (and better than an awkward one night stand)

However, about a year ago I had a proper think about why I crave a romantic/sexual relationship, especially in relation to the needs that that kind of relationship would meet. And I had a bit of a revelation. There are a lot of us (and I include myself in this) who have needs that we want to be met by a romantic relationship, that could actually be a met by a familial or platonic relationship.

I work in the travel industry and solo travellers are on the increase - with the highest demographic being divorced, empty-nesters. You might have not have a partner or young children, but do you not have a close friend you could go away with? I've also heard single people who are worried that it might take a few days for someone to notice if they went missing. I'm pretty certain my employer and flatmate would notice immediately - but I also have friends that I speak to almost every day who would get worried very quickly. The same goes for emotional support during difficult times.

If you're feeling down about being single, I recommend thinking about why you feel this way. Is it really a romantic relationship you want, or do you have needs that aren't being met (but could be met!) by the platonic relationships in your life? What are you really craving?

I don't believe that blood is thicker than water

Just the same as I don't hold romantic relationships as automatically more important than platonic relationships, familial relationships also have to be meaningful for me to put emotional energy into them. I'm not into the societal conditioning that family members - regardless of how toxic they are - should get a free pass on behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or upset. If you wouldn't accept certain behaviours from a friend, don't accept them from a family member.

I actually come from a very small family: I'm an only child with a grand total of five cousins. I also don't want children and I'm not too fussed about a life partner, so in a few decades time there's a very high likelihood that I won't really have a family. This makes some people reach out to pat me on the shoulder, but this is something I have long made my peace with - and is probably why I put a lot of effort into making meaningful connections outside the family.

I'm honest as fuck straight away when I'm dating

Generic dating advice will tell you not to talk about marriage and children on a first date. This is dating advice I tend to ignore. I actually have written on my Tinder that I don't want children. As far as I'm concerned telling someone what you want before anyone falls in love is how respectful people behave, and recognises that we are living in 2019 (not 1960 where women can't get a mortgage without a husband's signature).

Relationship Anarchy respects people's right to do what is right for then. Whether that is a traditional house in the suburbs with two kids and a dog, or having multiple casual relationships. I don't care what other people do, and I certainly don't have anything against people who stick to tradition. But it does mean being very honest with people - and recognising that there are multiple ways to practice romantic and sexual relationships so you need to lay your needs down early.

It's 2019 and various relationship styles are coming out the woodwork. It's time to acknowledge them because they're only going to grow more popular. So be honest.

If you identify as a Relationship Anarchist, how does it show up in your life? 
morag | mo adore
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