For the sake of convenience I say "Car crash" but this could be another type of accident such as the recent bus accident in the film Margaret or the hitting of a young boy in the movie Rabbit Hole, or even the incidents of car accidents and carjackings in Crash.
The Car Crash Intrigue:
A car crash has a unique film intrigue because it puts two people (or group of people) together who normally wouldn't come in contact with one another, and very quickly.
Even recently I was in a minor fender bender and instantly your life intersects with a stranger. Who is this person? What do they do? How does this fifteen second event impact our next hour, next day, and beyond.
In addition to putting two people together who might not normally encounter one another, it quickly accelerates or creates the plot. Particularly if the the accident causes a death, this becomes a plot power keg. It seems like a good story start in that regards, but I find that to be kind of a boring path for a story to take on.
If not death, even in movies like Mulholland Drive where the character survives a car accident it kicks of a story or in 50 First Dates when a car accident creates a case of amnesia setting up the primary plot points (surprisingly similar to last year's The Vow, just not funny)
Generally the accident on the front end of the film get's the plot moving forward, even if working out the ramifications of the accident the entire film.
Emotional Moments & Final Words:
I think of the movie Signs, a film that is colored by a death and a car accident. A character's death not only creates an emotional moment but the characters final words (in the case of signs: "Tell Merill to swing away," creates an important plot point. Final words have power, but as a magical/mystical plot point, it can sometimes be a little bit of a convenient fix (or over sentimentalized moments) to chunky plot points.
An Awful Ending
It's almost as bad as a movie ending and it all being a dream. The sudden car accident at the end that kills a main character (spoiler: One Day). It seems lazy, dramatic, and a bad ending.
Not Marketable or Remarkable
Looking at 2013 films with car accidents I find myself finding these films in categories of one's I'm not interested. Here some of the films that fit this bill, any intrigue you? I've included their IMDB.com summary.
- Assumed Memories (dir. Bernard Salzmann): Award winning news reporter Daria Valdez Morrow was investigating a series of murders caused by a local serial killer when she gets into a car accident and suffers from Retrograde Amnesia. When she comes to, she begins to suspect that her husband, Sam Morrow is the serial killer she had been reporting about and embarks on a journey to discover the truth.
- Intersections (dir. David Marconi): A couple on their honeymoon in Morocco survive a deadly car accident in the middle of the desert.
- Milwood (dir. Evan Goldman, Jimmy Scanlon): After an unexpected fatal car accident, Nathan Perry is assigned to the Milwood facility for young adults. During his time at Milwood, Nathan becomes a victim of unforeseen terror and unusual behavior.
- Nerve (dir. Sebastien Guy): Nerve follows a man, Jakob Evans, who has just suffered an emotional breakdown from the recent death of his wife in a car accident. But Jakob's loss and pain runs deep as he also claims to have found her in bed with another man just before her death.
- No Good Deeds (dir. Sam Miller): A former district attorney and her kids are kidnapped by a man who has escaped from prison and poses as the victim of a car accident.
- The Remembrance (dir. Brandon Taylor): After a life changing car accident, Nate is haunted by what he's done.
- Shhh (dir. Ruben Rodriguez): AAngela Tucker was involved in a horrific car accident that killed her mother and younger sister. The accident left her mute, a side effect from post-traumatic stress.
Feel free to list in the comments a car accident in film you liked or didn't like in a film.