Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Review : Final Destination 5 (2011)


Steven Quale


Eric Heisserer, Jeffrey Reddick (characters)
Survivors of a suspension-bridge collapse learn there's no way you can cheat Death.
Calling FINAL DESTINATION 5 the best of the sequels isn't really saying too much, or in any way an indication of quality. After all, its the fifth part in what has been until now, a series travelling in ever decreasing circles. The first was great, the second was campy fun, the third was Mouse Trap with gore, (although often funny) and the fourth, well, I cant even remember the fourth, other than remembering I hated it. Its not a great track record, and like most Horror franchises, your most likely going to expect yet another drop in quality. Its great news for Horror fans then, that the fifth film does a whole lot right, and goes quite some way to putting the franchise back on track. Its easily the best since the first, yes, but its also just a damn fun film in its own right.
Whereas arguably every film since the original, (and the first sequel),  has forsaken all character beats for cool looking death scenes, this one actually makes an attempt at creating some likable, semi-rounded people to root for. It helps that they got on board some actors who can actually act this time. This ain't Laurence Olivier but it's a long damn way from the rage inducing douchebaggery of the fourth film. Of course, theres little real depth here but this isn't a character study, its not fucking RAY, its a film about hapless randoms having their asses handed to them by the Grim Reaper. People watch these films for one reason only, and that's the gruesome and inventive kills.  But as the last two films proved, you have to have at least some fucking story, or else your just watching what amounts to a high budget snuff movie. The first film grasps this amazing concept, the second looked it up and down in the bar, then flirted with it some, and the third and fourth may as well have had crash test dummies as its cast. I cant remember a single one of those characters/actors  besides that hot chick from SCOTT PILGRIM, and that was only because shes that hot chick from SCOTT PILGRIM.

FD5 tries a little harder, and manages to create some sympathetic characters. The lead, and this  films 'psychic' is identifiable as an average guy who loves his work and loves his gal, and seeing as his gal is Emma Bell, (FROZEN), you'll most likely love her too, and get right on the guys side. His best mate is well played too, by Miles Fisher. You believe these guys are buddies. The rest of the cast do well enough too, and you'll be sorry to see some of them go, even though watching them go is a damn blast. Also of note, the mighty Tony Todd reappears here as the creepy ass coroner who seems to relish telling each group of survivors they're fucked, without being in any damn way helpful. Love the guy, and its always a trip to see him onscreen, however brief. That's all you gotta do, Tony, just show up and freak the cast out with your 'Death has a plan' riff, and I'm sold, sir.

Todd's behaviour isn't the only familiar thing here though. The film feels more like a remake of the original than a continuation. Theres very little new plot elements here, and the film follows the originals template beat for beat until the third act, when it tries to do a few things differently. We've seen it all before, we know the huge accident is coming, we know theres a funeral to end act 1, and an interrogation scene with the lead and some feds, we know there'll be thirty second discussion that helps explain the plot to anyone who's been living in a rain forest for eleven years. We know all this, yet its familiarity feels pretty welcoming. The formula still works. These films are akin to a fairground ride, and when done well, as this one most certainly is, they're a hell of a lot of fun. Its nice though , that they still make attempts at doing things a little differently in the final act. And its refreshing to see a fifth part in a series have so much care go into it. The writers and directors really ought to be kept on board for the inevitable sixth entry.

And what of the main attraction, the kills? They're pretty damn great, and as mean spirited as you would hope for. Of course I wont give the gags away, but theres a real sense of glee in the slaughter, and its hard not to grin like an idiot as the blood, gore and body parts are liberally splashed across the screen. Every death is a crowd pleaser, and the opening accident is the best in the entire series, and is pretty damn frightening, much as the first two disasters were. This is probably the goriest of all the movies, and its also the most cruel. In other words, good times. And while the deaths are very graphic, the setups for Death's traps have wisely been pulled back and made simpler,  much like FINAL DESTINATION 1 and 2. The ten minute long Mouse Trap bullshit is gone, and it helps give the film a greater sense of urgency. Paranoia makes a welcome return too, and theres a nice scene in a kitchen that hearkens back to Devon Sawa's suspense riddled attempts to eat a can of tuna in the original. It all adds up to a very fun experience. And without giving anything away, the films ending is a nice surprise for the fans, and it pretty frightening in its own right. It makes no damn sense, but who gives a shit.

If your worried that the franchise can only sink lower after part 4, don't be. This is a solid genre pic that goes back to the series' roots and ups the stakes in some pretty amusing ways. Its cruel, graphic, well directed, smartly written and is a real treat for the faithful. Who'd have thought a fifth part in whats essentially a slasher series could aim so high? This ain't high art, hell, it ain't even low art, but its an enjoyable ride while it lasts. Grab your bud's, grab some beers and give it a chance.

7.5 Roasted Eyeballs out of 10


  1. I'm glad that you noticed that the acting wasn't as awful as some people would have you believe. A lot of reviewers confused acting with character development which, in fairness, there isn't very much of.

    The only real fault I found was that it was a all over a little bit too quick. I looked at my watch at the hour point thinking it was only 30 minutes in and was disappointed knowing that there wasn't going to be much more left. I thoroughly enjoyed it all though. Well done for mentioning "Mouse Trap" in comparison to the other Final Destination films. Excellent review.

  2. Thank Dr. Yeah I felt it was too short too. I'm so used to seeing films drag on forever, and then you find one your having real fun with, and its over before it begins. Really was a good time though.