Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Stephen Quale
Stars: Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, P J Byrne, Arlen Escarpa, David Koechner, Tony Todd, Courtney B Vance.
This fifth film in the successful Final Destination series brings the franchise full circle. It is one of the best films in the series as well. The film follows the usual formula, in which a group of people cheat death by surviving a spectacular accident, but then find themselves falling victim to gory accidents. Scriptwriter Eric Heisserer has scripted the remakes of A Nightmare On Elm Street and the upcoming The Thing, and his script for Final Destination 5 taps easily into the mythology of this series that was originally created by Jeffrey Reddick.
In this case, a busload of employees of Presage, a paper manufacturing company, on their way to a business retreat survive a tragic bridge collapse when apprentice chef Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto, from Rocket Science, Fired Up!, etc) has a premonition of disaster. A handful heed his warning to get off the bus and they narrowly survive. The other survivors include Sam’s ex-girl friend Molly (Emma Bell), his boss Peter (Miles Fisher) and his gymnast girlfriend Candice (Ellen Wroe), the buxom Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood), the oafish Isaac (P. J. Byrne), factory floor manager Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta), and clueless and unsympathetic company boss Dennis (David Koechner).
Cynical federal agent Jim Block (Courtney B Vance) has trouble accepting Sam’s story of a timely vision, and keeps an eye on the survivors. One by one the survivors fall foul of horrible freak accidents, dying in the order they should have in the first place.
Tony Todd (Candyman, etc) again lends his creepy presence to the film as Bludworth, the mysterious morgue employee who warns the survivors that they can’t escape death. A novel twist in this instalment though has the survivors reach the reluctant conclusion that the only way to cheat death is to kill some innocent stranger in their place. Thankfully though this moral issue never really gets in the way of the graphic and grisly death scenes.
The suspension bridge collapse that opens the film is a highlight, a superbly constructed CGI sequence that uses the 3D process effectively. How often do you see someone skewered to death on a yacht mast? And in glorious 3D no less? Bodies are severed, broken, impaled, splattered, and the blood spatters the camera. But Final Destination 5 is good fun.
It was shot in 3D, and first time director Steven Quale uses the process effectively. The film grabs our attention right from the cleverly designed opening credits sequence in which broken glass, skulls, fans, gun barrels, knives and needles are thrown at the audience. And the closing credits sequence revisits the classic fatal accidents from the previous four films with a slickly edited montage. It is also obvious that some of the elaborate set-ups for the grisly deaths have been planned with the 3D process in mind.
Quale makes good use of his background working in visual effects on films for the likes of James Cameron. Quale and Heisserer have certainly concocted some quite imaginative ways to kill off the cast, and they seem to revel in the macabre black humour. Quale takes great pains to set up each individual death scene, especially in the gymnastics sequence where he generates excruciating suspense, but also cleverly undercuts our expectations. And there is one distinctly uncomfortable sequence involving laser eye surgery that goes wrong.
The film features a cast of good looking but largely unknown young actors who become sacrificial pawns. The characters are such vapid creations that we don’t particularly care that they are killed – what fascinates us is the inventive ways in which they meet their demise. Koechner brings some welcome touches of droll humour to his role as the company boss, while Fisher gives off a cocky Tom Cruise-like vibe (not surprising since he played a character named Tom Cruise in the spoof Superhero Movie).
Like the previous films in the series, Final Destination 5 proves to be a guilty pleasure!