Final Destination 5 (2011)
Directed by Steven Quale
I will be absolutely straight with you, dear readers- like many of you, my two main reasons for ever stepping foot in a theater to watch a Final Destination movie are the epic opening disaster sequence and the gloriously intricate death traps awaiting the survivors of said epic opening disaster sequence once Death realizes they have eluded his grasp. After the initial Final Destination thrilled me back in 2000, I will admit generally going into its sequels with far less enthusiasm and a waning interest in the actual characters who happened to be trying to defy Death. I just showed up for the spectacle and the carnage and really never gave anything else much consideration.
However, Final Destination 5 has done something remarkable with the fifth installment of the highly popular series as writer Eric Heisserer and director Steven Quale decided to raise the bar for other horror sequels out there. Not only do they deliver the destruction and death we all long for in the Final Destination films, but they also manage to create an incredibly unique script that fabricates some new twists into the franchise's mythology and gives audiences a reason to care about the characters again.
In fact, Final Destination 5 is one of those rare sequels that is either on par with or almost exceeds the original film of the series. With an incredibly talented cast bringing this fifth movie to life and a jaw-dropping ending you won't even see coming, Final Destination 5 may now officially be my favorite film of the entire franchise.
In FD5 we are introduced to Sam (D'Agosto) and several of his paper factory co-workers on the day they set off for a corporate retreat. As they embark on their trip, Sam has a horrific premonition in which he sees himself, his co-workers and countless others die tragically during a freak bridge collapse. Once the premonition ends, and real life begins to feel a little too familiar for Sam, he quickly starts to get as many people off the bus as he can before disaster strikes.
After escaping the catastrophic bridge collapse, Sam and the other survivors- including Sam's best pal Peter (Fisher), Sam's girlfriend Molly (Roberts) and fellow co-workers Candice (Wroe), Olivia (MacInnes Wood), Nathan (Escarpeta), Isaac (Byrne) and Dennis (Koechner)- breathe a collective sigh of relief since they have narrowly escaped Death. However, the relief is short-lived as the group members soon realize that you can never cheat Death. If someone's time is up, he'll be there to collect.
This time around, though, Heisserer has upped the stakes a bit: The survivors are given a powerful suggestion by a mysterious man, Bludworth (Todd, reprising his role from earlier Final Destinations), who seems to show up conveniently whenever a death has occurred, that Death cannot be cheated but it can be tricked. So, if it's your time when Death comes for you and you're willing to kill someone else, Death will be happy to take that person's life instead of yours, allowing you to remain amongst the living for the amount of that person's lifespan.
Talk about kicking things up a notch! In previous Final Destination flicks most characters only had to worry about inanimate objects, faulty wiring and ill-placed water spills; but now there's a lot more to deal with when it turns out you can offer up Death a human sacrifice in your place. That's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the creative twists Heisserer added to the Final Destination formula, and to say anything more would not only give away huge spoilers but ruin the experience of what makes Final Destination 5 a thrilling and entertaining roller coaster ride of a flick.
In terms of the deaths in FD5, from the advertising you already can deduce there will be some victims served up by way of acupuncture and Lasik eye surgery so while I will refrain from revealing any other details about the circumstances of the deaths themselves, what I can say is that hands down, this film may have the best deaths of the entire franchise. You'll squeal in horror, you'll squirm in your chair, and I guarantee you'll never consider putting a laser anywhere near your eye again for any reason.
The cast of Final Destination 5 is genuinely solid and not only does a great job at keeping viewers engaged with their roles throughout the film but will have you rooting for them to find a way to cheat Death in the film's final act. D'Agosto makes for a compelling lead, holding his own against the likes of funnyman Koechner and acting veteran Vance, and the rest of the ensemble manages to deliver strong performances as well. Heisserer's script is careful not to make his supporting characters too one-dimensional either so there is a lot to be enjoyed in Escarpeta's portrayal of struggling plant manager Nathan that finally allows the up-and-coming actor a chance to show his chops, and it also lets Byrne, whose character Isaac delivers a good deal of the laughs in the film with his overbearing ladies' man approach, shine as a gifted comedic performer.
When it comes to 3D technology and filmmaking, Quale has proven with Final Destination 5 that his time collaborating alongside James Cameron were years well spent because the look and feel of the 3D in the film is phenomenal. While there are still plenty of "jump at you" moments in Final Destination 5, it's the field of depth that Quale added to the film when he shot it in 3D that makes it one of the best 3D horror films to have been released in recent years. The opening title sequence alone is so incredibly badass that I could have sat in the theater and watched it on a loop for two hours straight. I'm sure the 2D version looks great as well, but to me Final Destination 5 is the kind of movie you need to see in 3D in order to get the full experience.
Fans of the Final Destination series, you'll be pleased to know that this latest entry is a gleefully gory addition to your beloved franchise, and for those of you who may have not ever experienced a Final Destination film before, there is still a lot for you to enjoy as well. Final Destination 5 is not only gruesomely entertaining, but it has managed to breathe new life into the franchise, making a huge fan out of me all over again.
4 1/2 out of 5