It was in the year 2000 that we met the unseen force of Death itself, in our very first introduction to the franchise known as Final Destination. The unique and original premise of a group of characters cheating death and then being hunted down one by one was originally pitched as an episode of The X-Files – an idea that was inspired by the infamous 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800. In short, the show’s creator apparently wasn’t interested in the idea, though it caught the attention of two members of the writing staff. They fell in love with the concept and decided to work together to go bigger and turn it into a feature film. With that decision, a hit franchise was born.
It’s now been 13 years since the release of the original Final Destination, and to date we've seen five installments of the series – with the last one spewing blood and carnage into theaters back in 2011. Though the highly entertaining Final Destination 5 neatly tied itself into the original film – bringing the franchise to a pretty damn perfect and satisfying conclusion – we all know that a horror franchise is never truly dead. Just ask Freddy... or Jason... or Pinhead... or any horror movie that’s ever made a whole lot of money.
Final Destination 5 was the second highest-grossing film in the franchise, so it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Final Destination 6 is imminent. Surprisingly, however, the past two years have gone by without a peep about another sequel... that is, until this very interesting video surfaced on YouTube earlier this week:
Though the video was uploaded by a fan of the franchise named Alexander McNeill, things get really interesting in his description of it. McNeill mentions in the "About" section of the video that he cut together the trailer based on an idea that had been relayed to him by someone named Craig Perry. Though that name probably doesn’t ring a bell, a quick search on IMDb will reveal that Perry has produced every single film in the Final Destination series.
Needless to say, Perry is a guy with pull when it comes to this franchise, and that little slice of information turns the video from a fan-made bit of fun into something a little more intriguing. Could this video represent an actual concept in the works for an upcoming sixth installment? Is Death really headed into the Dark Ages? I felt it was worth digging deeper into things, so I sought out the video’s editor in an effort to learn more...
A hardcore Final Destination fan, editor Alexander McNeill has been cutting together fan trailers and mash-up videos for the films in the series since 2006. In 2009, Perry hosted a forum promoting the release of fourth installment The Final Destination, bringing McNeill and the producer together at last. “The franchise has always been incredibly fan-friendly and interactive with its community,” says McNeill. “I eventually got the opportunity to build up a friendship with him.”
Realizing there’s no one better to bounce ideas off than a diehard fan, Perry recently came to McNeill and proposed the idea of setting the next Final Destination sequel in the distant past, in an effort to get an inside look at how fans might respond to such a unique concept. “His idea was to draft behind the worldwide success of Game of Thrones and set the Final Destination paradigm in the 12th century, when paranoia, superstition and disease were as omnipresent as death itself,” McNeill told me. “I won’t go into all the details, but it was a pretty fleshed-out storyline with cool death sequences and some fun twists... and there’s a connection with the contemporary storylines that I think is pretty awesome.”
That discussion was all the inspiration McNeill needed for his next fan edit, embarking on a quest to bring Perry’s idea to life. “I thought it was a really bold direction to take the franchise,” McNeill says. “It inspired me to convert his pitch into a trailer that could visually demonstrate the idea’s visceral potential.”
Obviously, cutting together a trailer for a film that hasn’t been shot is no easy task... but that didn’t stop McNeill; he’s done this kind of thing before. The editor began writing up a list of films and TV shows that he felt evoked the general spirit of Perry’s idea – a list that included titles such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Master and Commander, Amistad, Kingdom of Heaven and Game of Thrones. “Some of [the movies] were good for only one shot, but in context it made all the difference in the world,” said McNeill about the arduous process. “What I learned is that the Final Destination franchise is incredibly specific. So it was challenging to ‘create’ the sense of Final Destination moments and situations with the random shots I collected.”
McNeill sent the video to Perry as soon as it was finished, and he says the producer was both surprised that he did it and quite pleased with how it turned out. At the end of the day, though, Final Destination 6: The Dark Age was just an idea – one that we have no reason to believe we will ever get to see realized on the big screen. “As far as I know, there are no plans to make a sixth installment right now,” McNeill told me.
But whether or not a movie ever comes of the idea, what’s important here is that the video McNeill edited together is getting fans talking, and showing how the simple formula of the franchise could still be made fresh and new – even after it’s been seemingly milked for all it’s worth. “I think the trailer provides an interesting look at just how much versatility is in the central conceit of the franchise,” McNeill explains. "I think it’s time the franchise had a significant turnaround – what with the concept of death in the modern world being explored in the previous 5 films. Death and fate are timeless themes, and the period setting freshens up the formula overall. It’s a gutsy move, but I think it has the potential to work.”
Whether you agree with McNeill that the idea has potential, or you think it would never in a million years work, I think we can all agree that the franchise could really benefit from a shot in the arm. Aside from different settings and characters, the films in the series have essentially been carbon copies of one another, and there’s nothing wrong with spicing things up and bringing a fresh, new vision to the table. Change is good, as they say.
McNeill summed it all up better than I ever could. “The debate generated by this concept trailer among fans has been quite something,” he remarked at the end of our chat. “Regardless whether or not Final Destination 6 happens, it’s a look into how strong the ties between the fans and filmmakers are, and how many avenues these films could possibly head down.” Amen to that.
You can check out more of Alexander McNeill’s work on his YouTube channel, where you’ll find additional Final Destination edits along with lots of other fun little goodies!