Review: Final Destination 5 / Directed by: Steven Quale / Screenplay by: Eric Heisserer, Jeffrey Riddick / Starring: Nicholas D'Aqosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood / Release date: Out now
After the abysmal The Final Destination, the franchise gets back on track in a big way with Final Destination 5 which is the best movie in the series since the second movie. You know the formula by now; young good looking types exposed to potential danger, one of them has a premonition and leads a few to safety only to see what they envisioned come true. The survivors carry on with their lives but Death comes calling for each of them in turn in nasty fashion. Oh and Tony Todd will show up and spout some enigmatic dialogue about how you shouldn’t piss off death. This is a high point for the franchise which hasn’t even made it into Saw like numbers yet despite being over ten years old. Directed with confidence by Steven Quale who cut his teeth as a second unit director on some big movies, the fifth instalment carries on like it’s the first instalment in a brand new series and manages to breathe new life into the franchise.
Our story begins with some paper company sales and administration types going on a company team building retreat. Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) has just broken up with Molly (Emma Bell) and is also conflicted about his future with the company having just been offered a job as an apprentice chef in Paris. Whilst crossing a bridge which is having work done on it, Sam has a vision of the bridge collapsing and his colleagues getting violently killed. Understandably freaked out, Sam gets off the company bus with Molly and several colleagues follow; they then witness the bridge collapse. They carry on with their lives but death is not happy and through a series of nasty accidents, Sam’s colleagues start to die in the order that he envisioned.
From the synopsis you may assume that this is business as usual but where this differs from most of the other films in the franchise is with Steven Quale’s skill with creating suspense and tension. Each sequence is excruciatingly tense as the potential accidents mount up and we see potential causes of death suddenly be eliminated as something we didn’t even see swoops in and violently takes a life. Making it worse is the situation in which each victim finds themselves. We get nasty scenes involving acupuncture, laser eye surgery and worst of all gymnastics. Each time there are close ups of sparking wires, flammable liquids and sharp edges and you think that one of them will come into play at some point but then it doesn’t. Added to this new found skill at the death scenes is the initial bridge destruction sequence which is spectacular, the only drawback being the fact that as I don’t have a 3D TV some of the effect is lost when it comes to the shots that are clearly composed with the 3D format in mind.
The film also introduces a different concept from the other movies and goes a step further to suggest that once you are marked for death you can take another life and appease the reaper and then it will pass you by. This added facet of the mythology means that the narrative takes on an extra dimension and you end up with twice the suspense as characters go to desperate lengths to cheat death. The film also ends on a surprising note that I did not see coming which makes you think about the whole saga in a different light. That’s not to say that this is some deep meditation on death and loss, the series is still all about the death scene and is as deep as a puddle.
Final Destination 5 is everything that later instalments in horror franchises should be, it’s a well-worn formula made fresh by a director with actual skill that explores new territory. As a crowd pleasing horror movie from a decade old franchise this film is something to be applauded.
Extras: Alternate Death Scenes, Visual Effects featurette.