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Final Destination 5

A movie directed by Steven Quale

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This Franchise May Be at Death's Door

  • Aug 13, 2011
Star Rating:

If you haven’t seen any film in the Final Destination franchise, you’re in luck. Go buy a ticket for Final Destination 5, watch the entire film, and then stay for the start of the end credits. At that point, you will be treated to a montage of just about every death scene in each of the previous four films – every single death scene projected up on the screen in all their blood-soaked, painful, laughably preposterous glory. And in 3D, too. You have officially saved yourself the time and effort of having to go back and catch up on the story thus far, which is only fitting since I’m assuming you’re of the demographic that wouldn’t give two severed heads or an impaled heart about the plot or the characters. You just have to sit back, relax, and watch the blood spray and the brains splatter into your field of vision, along with a lot of shattered glass.
Even before going to see The Final Destination back in 2009, I knew it would not mark end of these films. Here’s a quick passage from my own review: The insinuation is that The Final Destination is the last in the series, but I’ve repeatedly observed that the word “final” is meaningless when it comes to a popular horror franchise (Friday the 13th used it twice, and they were proven wrong both times). I was indignant back then, mostly because of the insistent 3D effects, the repetitive and over-the-top death scenes, and the complete lack of character development. I’m not recommending Final Destination 5 – the 3D is still insistent, the death scenes are even more over-the-top, and the characters are still faceless victims waiting their turn to die on cue – but I concede that I feel a bit more forgiving this time. Perhaps it’s not about content but about the mood you happen to be in.

This film represents a trend a lot of horror franchises follow, namely the slow, steady shift in tone from dark and mysterious to laugh-out-loud campy. The original Final Destination had some genuinely frightening moments, and actually drew audiences in with its examination of fate, precognition, and mortality, preposterous though it all was. Now that we’ve reached the fifth chapter, the plot has become a clothesline on which to hang scene after scene of elaborately staged deaths, some happening in the most unlikely of places; in the course of this movie, we will have witnessed people meeting their ends in a laser eye-surgery clinic, a gymnasium, and a health spa, where acupuncture needles and a big, heavy statue of Buddha get involved. In all cases, the filmmakers have taken extra care to be disgusting. Take, for example, a girl that falls to her death from a window. It’s not enough that she smashes into a parked car and lands on the asphalt – her eyeball rolls directly toward the camera. And then a car runs over it.
The setup should be familiar by now. A group of friends (1) cheat death when one of them has a vision of their demise, and (2) is systematically hunted down according to the order they were supposed to die in. This time around, the hapless clairvoyant is a young aspiring chef named Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto); suddenly, and quite unexplainably, he foresaw the collapse of a suspension bridge while he and his co-workers were on it, specifically on a bus transporting them all to a retreat. In both the premonition and the actual event, the destruction is spectacular. I could have lived without the shot of a girl falling and getting impaled through the chest by a boat’s mast, but then again, that’s just me.

Making his third appearance as mortician William Bludworth is Tony Todd. Here is a role taken straight from the pages of a horror typecast manual; he shows up unannounced, disappears in the blink of an eye, and with a devilish smirk says all manner of creepy things in a monotone whisper. He seems to know an awful lot about death, and I mean in ways apart from the obvious implications of his job. He knows, for example, that if one has managed to cheat death, one must take a life in order to add years to his or her own. This piques the interest of Sam’s friend, Peter (Miles Fisher), who should have been required to wear a sign around his neck saying, “I may seem calm and collected, but I will eventually freak out.” Funny that Sam isn’t able to pick up on this. Of course, even as his friends are dying all around him, he’s still able to have a romantic dinner with his girlfriend, Molly (Emma Bell), and talk about possibly accepting an apprenticeship in Paris.
Admittedly, the final major scene is clever, although I don’t think I should elaborate on why. I also enjoyed the hilariously unconvincing romantic drama between D’Agosto and Bell. I’m not saying their performances are bad; I’m saying that they’re making an effort in a film that so clearly doesn’t call for one. Of course, then we’d be heading back into territory that made the previous film such an unpleasant experience for me. I think the best solution would have been to not make Final Destination 5 at all – nor the fourth film or the third or the second. The first film was engaging and really quite scary, which was all that I needed. Why diminish the impact with a string of obviously inferior sequels? I don’t know who made it a rule that original horror films are franchise launchers by default, but whoever it is should familiarize him or herself with the concept of quality over quantity.


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March 01, 2012
I saw it last night and enjoyed it immensely. You know, it is what it is; if seen through a critical eye, I suppose it's not THAT good of a movie, but at the same time, nor is it THAT bad of one. I think you nailed it in spite of our disagreements. Good stuff, on your part, and the movie's.
March 03, 2012
I'm just tired of the franchise. At a certain point, this has to stop.
August 13, 2011
This series takes the phrase "overkill" way too literally.
August 13, 2011
Boy, you've got that right.
August 13, 2011
I am feeling a bit under the weather lately, and it seems like this weekend isn't too hot for new movies either. I am interested in seeing this since I have followed the franchise since the original movie. I liked the first one, the 2nd was fun, 3rd had some pretty gruesome scenes and 4 was well, felt like the 3rd. I guess to judge these films, I just look at the creativity of the death scenes. It has good premise "death as a slasher-killer" but so far, it has done nothing to expand on the premise and feels stuck to a formula. Nice review.
August 13, 2011
Sorry you're not feeling well. On its own terms I suppose the film could be accepted as a campy film. As the fifth film in a series, however, it has overstayed its welcome. I thought the first one was good enough. No more needed to be made after that.
More Final Destination 5 reviews
review by . February 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Cheating Death...and It's Viewers....
I was actually a fan of the original “Final Destination” and I even enjoyed the first sequel. After that the series went on with almost exploitive fun that relied mostly on the death scenes, had no-name performers and they even added some sex and nudity with more hotties in the film. Don’t get me wrong, I still rented the movies but I was relieved that the 3rd sequel may have been the last with the title “The Final Destination”. Little did we know that it was all a …
review by . March 01, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    As "Final Destination 5" begins, so does the opening titles credits sequence; which is probably one of the coolest I've seen not only out of the entire 5-film series, but also out of any modern horror flick at all. It's the sort of radical, charged, energetic work of high-power technology that gets my blood pumping for the rest of the picture to come; and fortunately, all that built up anticipation was not for nothing. There's plenty more to the picture than …
review by . August 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   15 - 92mins - Horror/Thriller - 26th August 2011   The first Final Destination (the one with the plane) was a very original piece of work that had most of us enjoying some horror and gore in a novel and new way. By the time the second came out (the motorway pile up) in 2003 it could still be classed as a popcorn movie but they really raised the ingenuity of the death scenes making it a reasonable way to waste an hour and a half. By number 3 (roller coaster) and 4 (Nascar) I …
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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