Final Destination turned 20 years old this week, celebrating two decades of increasingly ludicrous Rube Goldberg machines orchestrated by the unseen hand of an extremely industrious Death, busting its unseen ass in an effort to even up its books. But while the series—varied in quality as it is—is certainly dark, it turns out it could have been a whole hell of a lot darker. That’s the biggest takeaway from a recent oral history of the series, conducted by Consequence Of Sound, which talked to creator Jeffrey Reddick about his original vision for the first film, which turns out to have been way heavier on the always-fun topic of teenage suicide.
See, the whole “Death plays Mouse Trap with steak knives” aspect that the series has so thoroughly embraced wasn’t actually part of the original premise—having been added by The X-Files’ James Wong and Glen Morgan when they were brought on to write, produce, and direct the film. In Reddick’s original draft, Death had to be a lot more circumspect when attempting to kill off Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, and the rest of the doomed survivors of Flight 180. And so it went for the less direct method: Haunting the kids with the ghosts of their loved ones, inducing them to take their own lives. It all sounds super heavy, which is presumably why it was ditched in favor of the bloody clockwork joyride the films swiftly became.
Meanwhile, the oral history is also filled to the brim with nifty technical details, including multiple perspectives on the bus hit that summarily knocks Amanda Detmer’s character Terry out of “Being alive” contention. (Detmer recounting an anecdote about a makeup student gushing about the semester she spent studying her explosive death is an especially weird touch.) It’s a nice look back at how all of the original film’s elaborate shenanigans played out—even as it also teaches us how late in the process those innovations arrived.