Music Made the Moment explores how a non-instrumental track in a horror film totally made the scene.
Now is the time on Horror Squad when we dance!

While James Wong's Final Destination may not be the kind of film people suffering from anxiety would want to watch, it is worth watching for those who enjoy ridiculous intricate, gory death scenes, the dynamic writing duo: Glen Morgan and James Wong (X-Files, Millennium), and a campy but fun cameo from fan favorite Tony Todd. What started as an unproduced script for The X-Files has spun off into a successful franchise consisting of four films (a fifth one is coming in 2011), as well as a book and comic series.

You wouldn't expect someone as innocuous as John Denver to play such a pivotal role in a horror film, but his song Rocky Mountain High is the thread that ties the movie's violent death scenes together -- a recurring audio cue signalling that someone is about to suffer an unpleasant ending. The song is both innocent and political in that Denver wrote it after being inspired by a move to Aspen, Colorado (it's actually one of the official state songs) -- but it also makes reference to the commercial tourism market that the singer felt plagued the state. The song boasts lines like, "I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky," which is eerie because Denver died after his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 1997.

And a plane crash is the premonition high school student Alex (Devon Sawa) has when he's about to board a jet bound for Paris with his fellow students. Denver's song is playing over the airport's speakers. He panics and tries to stop the flight, which only results in getting him, a few friends and his teacher Valerie Lewton (Kristen Cloke) kicked off the plane for disorderly conduct. His vision comes true when the airliner takes off and explodes in mid-air, killing everyone onboard. After Alex's best friend Tod (Chad Donella) is strangled in the shower, the surviving teens learn from the mysterious mortician (Tony Todd) preparing Tod's body that death is intervening to kill everyone who was meant to die on the plane. Soon after, Terry is hit by a bus and eventually Alex realizes that Death is killing the group off in the order they would have died in the explosion on the plane.

Denver's song keeps popping up throughout the film, but the death scene it seems to contrast with the most is the one with the student's teacher, Ms. Lewton. As the scene begins, Valerie is packing her house up and talking on the phone expressing her sadness and complete anxiety over the events that have surrounded her since the plane crash. At this point, Alex has realized that Ms. Lewton is next on Death's list so he heads to her home and lurks outside checking her car tires to make sure they're not going to be the cause of her demise. When Valerie spots Alex, she immediately calls the police who show up and drag him away before he can really explain what is about to happen. Valerie goes back to packing and decides to throw on her "mom's favorite" record -- Denver's Rocky Mountain High. The song puts a smile on her face and she tries to relax by making a cup of tea, but senses something odd in the house. Finally, the mug inscribed with her school's logo (Mt. Abraham High: another clever "death play" happening throughout the film -- references to assassinated presidents), reminds her of the tragic events and she panics -- tossing the hot tea into the sink. Like any frazzled and exasperated person might, Valerie goes for the booze to calm her nerves. She pours ice-cold vodka into her previously hot mug which causes it to crack. She carries the mug across the room to her computer, which leaves a trail of vodka on the floor. When she leans over her computer, some of it drips into the top of the monitor. What follows is another one of Final Destination'sRube Goldbergian death scenes set to the sweet, folk melody of Denver's fated song.

Ms. Lewton's death is perhaps the most drawn out scene making it all the more awful. The last words she utters to herself before her demise are, "You'll be outta here soon. Pretty soon you'll be gone." Oh Death, you cheeky monkey!

categories Features, Horror