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.