Final Destination 5 review

The long-running horror franchise rumbles on, but can Final Destination 5 improve on its unsatisfying predecessor? Here's Ron's review...

Ahh, the corporate retreat. It’s long been a staple of fictional corporations, and it makes a convenient movie plot to gather a lot of people together for no good reason.

At Presage Paper, the corporate retreat for all the white-collar types is some kind of summer camp with more corporate buzz speak, and it’s the brainchild of Dennis (David Koechner) and Peter (Miles Fisher). More Peter than Dennis, but that’s beside the point.

The whole company’s administrative and sales wing gets on a chartered bus to head towards the camp, when Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) has an abrupt freak-out. He starts screaming, telling everyone to leave the bus due to a vision he has of a bridge collapse.

Of course, since this is a Final Destination movie, seven people get off the bus, which promptly falls off the bridge in a horrible manner. The only survivors of Presage Paper are Sam, Dennis, Peter, Molly (Emma Bell of Walking Dead fame), Candice (Ellen Wroe), Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood), Isaac (P.J. Byrne), and Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta). Then, something strange happens… one by one, the should’ve-been-on-the-bus crew start dying off, and it’s up to Agent Block (Courtney B. Vance) to try to figure out what’s killing the survivors.

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When it comes to the Final Destination saga, you know what to expect. People are going to barely escape some kind of horrible disaster thanks to the main character having a vision of the horror to come. That saves some folks from Death’s icy grip, and since Death isn’t a friendly or forgiving sort, that sets off the series of increasingly elaborate and interesting death sequences to follow until the balance is restored. This has not changed over five movies.

However, one key thing has changed along the Final Destination continuum, and it is a crucial change. Starting with the very last kill in Final Destination 2, the tone of the series has changed entirely. Gone is the ultra-serious, ultra-threatening ambiance of the first film and most of the second film, and in its place is a new outlook on gore. Namely, the Final Destinations have embraced the cheesiness of the premise and have decided to trade terror in for hilarious gore, splatter, and some pretty hilariously cheesy death scenes. And I for one applaud this change. It has become the redeeming factor for the FD flicks, and Final Destination 5 does not deviate from this new norm.

Indeed, Final Destination 5 is heavy on the gore and craziness, thanks to director Steven Quale (a second unit director on Avatar, so you know he knows how to spray fluids at the camera). The script is also surprisingly clever when it comes to setting up its set pieces, and the Final Destination series has increasingly gotten more and more clever with their fake-out near-death experiences, as audiences have gotten wise to the action.

I’m sure this credit goes to scriptwriter Eric Heisserer, who also wrote the Nightmare On Elm Street remake and the upcoming The Thing prequel. The cleverness doesn’t extend to the dialog, which is pretty straightforward FD stuff save David Koechner’s hilarious introduction and a new plot wrinkle.

As for the acting, it’s perfectly passable. Basically, in a movie like this, you just need to get the actors out of the way and let them start dying. The characters you’re supposed to want to die end up wanting to die, and the Final Destination series’ only constant, Tony Todd as Mr. Bludsworth, has a great screen presence and delivers his few creepy lines with appropriate panache. Koechner has a few good jokes, but mostly Final Destination plays it straight, which is what you need in a flick like this. The movie is cheesy enough without any help from the actors.

You know what you’re getting with these movies by this point. If Final Destination is the sort of thing you you like, then you’ll like Final Destination 5 (which is better than The Final Destination). If you can’t laugh at dismemberment, fire, and 3D giblets, then avoid this flick. A note on this film’s 3-D presentation: 3-D adds nothing to the movie itself, but it adds a layer of fun to the kills. If that’s worth the upcharge to you, then by all means, I suggest it highly. It’s not great, but it sure is fun.

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3 stars

US Correspondent Ron Hogan rarely ducks at 3-D special effects, but he will admit to reflexively ducking a few times during FD5. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

Rating:

3 out of 5