When the first Final Destination movie was released in 2000, no one could have predicted the success of the horror franchise. No one that is, except for maybe Devon Sawa, the Canadian-born actor who played Alex Browning, the film’s character gifted with second sight.
At the bloody heart of each of these gory horror movies is a character with premonitions of the future. Usually he or she has forewarning that all his/her good-looking friends will die in the most terrible way imaginable. When the vision comes true—usually preceded by the tell tale line, “Something’s wrong!”—whoever survives ends up dying anyway, in increasingly complicated ways. With Final Destination 5 opening this weekend it seemed like an appropriate time to look back at other movie characters that have had creepy visions.
In The Gift, the movie Sam Raimi directed just before spinning the web for his Spider-Man trilogy, Cate Blanchett plays a psychic who helps the police locate a missing girl.
Billy Bob Thornton, Blanchett’s co-star and the movie’s screenwriter, based the character on his mother, Virginia Thornton Faulkner. Like the character in the movie, the psychic Mrs. Faulkner was a widow who raised three boys and used her extra sensory ability to make extra money.
In the hauntingly surreal Don’t Look Now, John Baxter (Donald Sutherland in a curly wig) has a premonition that something awful is about to happen to his daughter. Sure enough, seconds later she falls in a pond and drowns. Later in Venice, John and his wife (Julie Christie) meet an elderly psychic who claims to see apparitions of the dead daughter which triggers John’s own otherworldly visions.
Adapted from a short story by Daphne Du Maurier, the psychic thriller has become a cult classic since its release in 1973, inspiring filmmakers like Danny Boyle, who cites it as one of his favorite movies and E=MC2 a Top Twenty hit by Big Audio Dynamite.
Finally, some call these premonitions ESP, others, like author Stephen King, call them The Shining. In King’s novel, Stanley Kubrick’s film and the television movie of the same name, both Danny Torrance, the telepathic son of the winter caretakers of the remote Overlook Hotel and chef Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) have visions and premonitions. King says the title was inspired by the Plastic Ono Band’s song, Instant Karma which features the chorus, “We all shine on.”
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