It’s tough to pin down the best film in the Final Destination series. Other than the fourth, every entry in the franchise is pretty great. But I would posit that the top spot narrowly goes to the fifth flick in the franchise. It boasts impressive death sequences, a (mostly) likable cast, and a final twist that is likely to make first time viewers want to go back and re-watch the film to put the pieces together. If you haven’t seen Final Destination 5, bookmark this piece and have a look after you’ve seen the flick as there are spoilers ahead. If you have seen the film, please read on for further discussion.
During a bus ride with his colleagues to a corporate retreat, Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) experiences a horrifying vision: the suspension bridge that they — and many others — are crossing starts to crumble around them. When his vision ends and, almost immediately, starts to come true, Sam takes quick action that saves a number of people, including his girlfriend, Molly (Emma Bell), and his best friend, Peter (Miles Fisher). However, the survivors soon find that Death will not be denied.
By the fifth installment, a lot of franchises are merely trying to churn out formulaic carbon copies of earlier installments to ensure maximum return on investment. But this is something of a special case. Final Destination 5 avoids getting cynical and offers up what I consider to be the best showing from the series to date. And that’s no small feat when stopping to consider that Final Destination is one of the most consistent modern horror franchises around. More on that very subject can be found in this op-ed piece right here.
Something the Final Destination series do exceptionally well is build intensity through anticipation. And the fifth installment is no exception. The musical cues, the camera panning to show all the various implements that could lead to certain death (many of which don’t); it’s terrifying. I get so engaged in the buildup that by the time something violent happens, I’m already on pins and needles. The anticipation serves as both a foreshadowing device and a means of ratcheting up the suspense. These films remind me that the world is a scary place and that death is always waiting around the corner.
As well as delivering suspenseful build ups, the franchise is also known for its inventive sendoffs,. Final Destination 5 really takes advantage of the bridge setting (where the initial disaster takes place) for maximum carnage. For me, the bridge sequence ranks just behind the log truck crash in the second film for best opening in the series. The log truck scene has a slight edge but the bridge comes close.
I’m usually a practical FX guy but I have to say that the digital effects work in the bridge sequence is impressive and pretty realistic looking. The collapse is rendered convincingly and is almost as impressive as the deaths that occur in its wake.
In addition to the memorable bridge-related deaths, Candice’s gymnastics scene is a franchise standout. Series creator Jeffrey Reddick has even called that out as possibly his favorite from the series, at large. And it’s easy to see why. It’s brutal, creative, and elaborate. Seeing a character essentially folded in half is hard to beat. But that’s far from the only significant kill sequence in the flick. Final Destination 5 is full of inventive and gruesome sendoffs from the get go and it doesn’t let up until the credits roll.
Final Destination 5 also deserves props for its memorable cast. That’s thanks, in part, to a great script from Eric Heisserer (Lights Out). But also, thanks to great casting and solid performances from the onscreen talent. The casting of David Koechner as the douchebag manager with zero social graces is brilliant. The Dennis character feels like it was tailor made for Koechner. He leans into Dennis’ lack of self-awareness and makes me chuckle every time he’s onscreen.
Before I rest my case, allow me to spend a moment talking about the ending of Final Destination 5. It brings the franchise full circle and ties the conclusion to the beginning of the 2000 original. And I see that as a stroke of genius. I l also love the franchise death recap that plays at the end. This would have been the perfect note upon which to end the series. However, I’ll never say ‘no’ to more Final Destination. So, I am cautiously optimistic about the upcoming sixth installment.
Well, that’s all I’ve got. If you haven’t seen Final Destination 5 in a while, consider giving it a re-watch. You may just discover that it’s the best showing the series has to offer. Or, you may come back here to tell me to drink bleach (please don’t). Who’s to say?