REVIEW: ‘Final Destination 5’

Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) gets an eyeful in "Final Destination 5".
Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) gets an eyeful in "Final Destination 5".

Like many parts of the country these days, the horror genre has been firmly in the grips of a drought for the last few years. True relief has been scarce and we find ourselves grateful for even the slightest promise of it we may feel on the wind. All the while, charlatans and assorted snake oil salesmen proffer gimmicks and false hope, which we eagerly accept in lieu of the real thing.

But one day, relief will come.
Just not today.
Today, we get “Final Destination 5”.


For those of you who have never had the pleasure of any of the “Final Destination” movies, I can break them all down for you like this. The film opens by introducing a set of young and attractive stereotypes, who soon they find themselves in the middle of a spectacular action set piece in which most all of them meeting bloody ends. But this is only a premonition, which allows them to avoid the mayhem.  However, they discover that they were meant to die and Death is now “stalking them to set the books right.” The rest of the movie is a waiting game – not to see who dies, but to see how they die. The lead up to each death is a tedious stream of red herrings leading up to a freakishly improbable death. It usually ends with a couple of “survivors” who end up dying anyway just because no one really cheats Death.

For the most part, that’s what we get with the fifth installment of a film series that should have stopped after the first. Character-wise, we have the nice but conflicted Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto), his corporate-minded friend Pete (Miles Fisher), Sam’s nice girlfriend Emma (Emma Bell), Pete’s girlfriend and boss’ daughter Candice (Ellen Wroe), the vaguely slutty Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood), nerdy lothario, Isaac (P.J. Byrne), the token minority Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta) and lastly, the slightly overbearing and slightly dim boss Dennis (David Koechner). The big opening set piece is a suspension bridge collapse as the group is on their way to a corporate retreat. Sam has a vision and saves his friend – only after we get a glimpse into what should have been. That, of course, gets the ball rolling on the massive Rube Goldberg machine of death that every movie in the series has been so far.

Individually, the parts are solid. The cast is everything they need to be. D’Agosto and Bell are appropriately cute and endearing. Fisher eerily transforms into Tom Cruise as the movie goes along (which is ironic since he played Tom Cruise in “Superhero Movie”) and it’s actually a good thing as his character goes through the most complex journey in the film. This is due to the addition of a tweak to the original formula. In this installment, we find out from the creepy coroner (played to perfection by genre great Tony Todd) that if the survivors kill someone – essentially to take their place – then they get the life of the person they killed. This addition made for a very interesting, very intense climax. Unfortunately, for me, it’s not enough to salvage this movie. Despite enjoying the first film and still finding the concept interesting, I consider the subsequent movies to be exercises in laziness. While I’m sure it’s very tough work to make the same movie over and over and over and over again – only different – it’s not something I’d want to sit through.

Another sticking point I had with this movie was the 3-D. Although it was shot with 3-D cameras (thus avoiding the post-conversion mess) and the kills look generally fantastic with the extra dimension, I have a hard time accepting a 3-D movie where the majority of the scenes are in office buildings or similarly mundane locations.

“Final Destination 5” is cinematic déjà vu. It’s a raincloud on the horizon, full of promise, but not much else.

Final Destination 5 (2011)
  • Runtime:92 minutes
  • Director: Steven Quale
  • Writers:
    Eric Heisserer
     
    Jeffrey Reddick
     
  • Actors:
    Sam
    Nicholas D'Agosto
    Molly
    Emma Bell
    Peter Friedkin
    Miles Fisher
    Candice Hooper
    Ellen Wroe
    Olivia Castle
    Jacqueline MacInnes Wood
    Isaac
    P.J. Byrne

Joe Lopez
Dubbed, "TerrorScribe" by a former editor, Joe made the conversion to horror sometime in the mid-2000s. Little did he know he'd favored the genre all of his life. When not struggling with short stories, he provided genre film reviews for local entertainment sites and later genre sites who could suffer his cynical views.

It was that same cynicism - and some might say hubris - that lead him to have a brief flirtation with filmmaking. His first two efforts, "Annotated" and "Antes Que Seja Tarde (Before It's Too Late)" both premiered at a local H.P. Lovecraft film festival. A third short, "Survivor Girl" proved to be his undoing though plans are in the works to revived the cursed project.

Born and raised in Dallas, TX., Joe now resides in a small Texas town. Statistics say more dead bodies turn up in small towns that big cities... though he claims to have NOTHING to do with that.
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2 Replies to “REVIEW: ‘Final Destination 5’”

  1. I appreciated this for the pile of cinematic cheese it was. 🙂 The kills were fun. Also, the girlfriend’s name is Molly, not Emma. 😉 I loved the gore of the death scenes, but it saddens me how they’ve pretty much given up on the idea of practical effects and gone all CGI. I remember watching the ‘behind the scenes’ on the second film where they showed making individual segments of the man’s body who got ripped apart by barbed wire.

  2. I pretty much watched this entire series each time I went to give blood so it had my full attention which really just gave me too much time to analyze it.I think I can’t really enjoy it anymore because it is SO monumentally predictable. And yes, while the kills are nice and fairly creative everything else is just tedious.

    At least we didn’t get a ridiculous CG exploding head/hat spin like we did from Romero in “Survival of the Dead”.

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