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Final Destination 5 - Review

Final Destination 5

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

AFTER five films it really is left to the [clears throat] die-hards to get their kicks from the Final Destination franchise.

Any sense of freshness has long since left the building, meaning that it’s now up to each director – and in this case first-timer Steven Quale – to make the deaths as memorable and ‘thrilling’ as possible.

On that basis, Final Destination 5 succeeds in delivering some really grim reapings… in 3D. It opens in spectacular fashion, too, with a bridge collapse first seen through the eyes of its main protagonist (Nicholas D’Agosto’s aspiring chef Sam) and then replicated in real-time to let the small group of ‘survivors’ get away.

Thereafter, it’s a succession of elaborate and blackly comical mishaps that account for the group, as Death catches up with each of them in order not to be cheated.

The manner of the check-outs is also delivered in terms of merit – quick for those more amiable souls; drawn out and sickly for the less likeable cast members.

It’s grim stuff indeed – both in terms of what happens on screen and by virtue of the notion that audiences are expected to laugh and even cheer at the audacity of the deaths.

But such is the nature of the Final Destination films now that audiences have long since come not to care for the characters. In James Wong’s genuinely inventive original, viewers at least rooted for the survivor group and were as gripped by seeing who might survive as they were with what kind of elaborate deaths befell those that didn’t.

Quale’s fifth film, however, is all about the spectacle. His characters are a bland, one dimensional bunch who are merely running around like headless chickens counting down to the inevitable.

And that includes D’Agosto’s love-struck leading man: we don’t care whether he’ll decide on that career-making trip to Paris and keep the girl (Emma Bell) because we pretty much know that they’ll both be dead by the final reel anyway.

If anything, it’s better not to focus on those human dilemmas and just sit back and ‘enjoy’ the departures of those more ‘deserving’ types: the vain token hottie (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, whose departure provides the film with its most squeamish moment); the sexist, chauvinistic serial flirter (PJ Byrne, buying it at a massage parlour); the arrogant, pig-headed office manager (David Koechner, admittedly funny), or the Tom Cruise-a-like Miles Fisher.

It’s just a measure of society’s tolerance for horror and gore that audiences can now reasonably be expected to cheer each bloody demise, rather than feel any sense of loss or connection to the characters.

That said, Quale – a veteran of effects technology and long-time colleague of James Cameron – does keep things moving at a brisk pace and knows how to play to the franchise’s strengths. He therefore has fun with the gory and elaborate nature of the deaths, which are truly spectacular.

And he even wraps things up with a very neat ending that offers a really suitable jumping off point for the franchise.

So, if you’ve made it this far, buckle up and enjoy the ride. It’s almost entirely devoid of any real creativity but it does what it does in crowd-pleasing fashion and is best appreciated with a large audience.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 92mins
UK Release Date: August 26, 2011