Blasted by many fans as way too derivative of the first film, the third installment of New Line’s profitable new horror franchise does suffer from an unbelievable and weak "disaster" as its opening.
Part 1 featured the ultimate nightmare freak accident as its opener: A plane crash. Part 2 had the worst freeway disaster ever filmed. Part 3’s claim to fame is an unbelievable roller coaster crash. Roller coasters simply aren’t as scary as airplanes – which sometimes do crash – or freeways – where people often do die. Big roller coaster disasters just don’t happen. Yes, every now and then some individual dies on one. But not an entire group of people. In fact, I was about ready to give up on this movie after the coaster calamity – which of course our lead character (Winstead) sees in a vision before freaking out and getting most of the teens off of the ride. Seconds later, there’s a crash that would have killed all of them. Naturally, a few days later, they start dying in freak accidents in the order they would have died in on the ride. The first two victims – a couple of sorority-sister types who talk like valley girls – are burned alive in tanning machines. The film starts to pick up after it begins borrowing liberally from "The Omen," even more liberally than the film’s two predecessors which, as freak-accident horror films, are by definition "Omen" clones.
Winstead notices that photographs of her friends she took at the park offer clues as to the freak accident deaths they will ultimately experience, a la the photographer character in the original "Omen." It’s a good suspense technique, which keeps us interested as the freak killings aren’t as interesting as they were in the first two films.
Our protagonist teams up with fellow crash survivor Merriman to get to the bottom of what’s happening, researching the past events of the first film, and ultimately trying to cheat death, which is picking off the surviving characters one by one.
"3" isn’t as gory as "2," but it takes itself more seriously and has a better mystery plot, although we already basically know what’s going on in the story. (Director Wong also helmed the first film.) We also get a bonus second disaster – "3" apparently had the biggest budget of all the movies.
It made boat-loads of money at the box office, so expect a "4" in 2009.