Originally written as an episode of The X-Files, Jeffrey Reddick ended up turning his script into a movie that became five films, two comic books, and nine novels. Not bad for a guy who sent in his first script to New Line at age fourteen, which led to a phone and mail friendship with studio head Robert Shaye.
It was directed by James Wong, who also made The One and the 2006 version of Black Christmas. He would say, “One thing we were all in agreement on from the start is that we didn’t want to do a slasher movie. We didn’t want a guy in a dark cloak or some kind of monster chasing after these kids. That’s been done again and again.”
On May 13, 2000, Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) and his classmates are supposed to take a senior trip to France. Before the plane takes off, he has a vision of the plane crashing and panics until Carter Horton (Kerr Smith) fights him. This gets both of them kicked off the place, as well as Tod Waggner (Chad E. Donella), Terry Chaney (Amanda Detmer), Billy Hitchcock (Seann Willam Scott), Clear Rivers (Ali Larter) and teacher Valerie Lewton (Kristen Cloke, named for famous horror producer Val Lewton). The plane crashes and everyone dies, but Death won’t give up.
It pays them back in exaggerated set pieces — stay tuned on those, they get even crazier — as Death must take them off the board. They learn exactly what they’re in store for from William Bludworth (Tony Todd), who is pretty much the personification of life being snuffed out.
In case you wonder, “Hey, where have I seen this before?” The answer is 1983’s Sole Survivor and The Twilight Zone episode “Twenty-Two.”
Alternate titles in other countries included Destination in South Korea, The Death God Comes in China, Last Station in Turkey and it was almost called Flight 180.