Final Destination 5

| August 12, 2011

Never has a movie reminded me of both my immaturity and mortality as effortlessly as Steven Quale’s Final Destination 5, yet another addition in the horror franchise. How, you may ask? For one, the nuanced death sequences were more than enough to show me that wherever I go, there’s a thousand ways to die. And as for the former, the fact that I enjoyed the aforementioned scenes speaks volumes.
In the oxymoronic Final Destination 5, the sheep of the slaughter are: Sam Lawton (Nicholas D’Agosto), who dreams of abandoning his tight cubicle and, one day, working as the Head-Chef for a prestigious restaurant; Molly Harper (Emma Bell), his ex-girlfriend who dumped him thinking that she was a hindrance to him; Peter Friedkin (Miles Fischer), Sam’s best friend and co-worker; Ellen Wroe (Candice Hooper), an intern and Peter’s romantic spark; Olivia Castle (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood), who is more-or-less the film’s vanity-driven egomaniac; Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta), just another face in the crowd, whose lack of a last name indicates his narrative importance; Isaac (P.J. Bynre), a womanizing scumbag who spares no expense in raiding a dead co-worker’s personal belongings whilst fishing for loose change and unused gift certificates; and Dennis (David Koechner), their dimwit boss.
As required of all of the films in the franchise, the film opens with a short introduction to the crew, dubbed the ‘Lucky 8,’ who, shortly thereafter, are saved from vicious deaths during a suspension bridge collapse. This is thanks to an unexpected premonition by Sam, who witnesses the (oh-so bloody) consequences of not acting hastily. But their celebrations quickly draw to a close when the series’ only permanent resident, William Bludworth (Tony Todd), warns that it’s impossible to cheat Death and that unless they murder someone to die in their place, they are doomed to be hunted down by the apparition himself. Courtney B. Vance makes an appearance as Agent Block, who despite obvious holes in his logic, theorizes that Sam is behind the bridge disaster.
Using the word “characters” to describe the human death fodder featured in Final Destination 5 would be a disgrace to good writing, and Eric Heisserer’s script is hardly pleasant. This fifth installment doesn’t change the gornography mandate of the franchise, but under Quale’s direction, the film excels in its Hitchcockian ability to make seemingly random (and at first glance, safe) settings into elaborate deathtraps. These include a spa, gymnasium, and an ophthalmologist’s office, where faulty wiring, overly-aggressive masseuses, and clumsy doctors only contribute to gruesome demises. Granted, I wasn’t sure if I should be more worried for myself because I found these parts oddly entertaining or for the filmmakers, who were tasked with creating the bloodiest, most inhuman examples of popular torture porn. What’s worse? The grace that they handle the ugly stuff left me unsatisfied with the more subdued deaths. Oh sweet baby Jesus, I’m going to have to check myself into a sanitarium…again.
But before I do so, let’s have a word or two about the acting. Like the writing, it’s less than stellar, but the sophomoric cast does what it sets out to. Because the producers wanted this installment to be darker than its almost comedic predecessor, The Final Destination, the leads exchange no clever quips, but rather attempt to recreate mourning and desperation. The approach has mixed results. D’Agosto, who plays the film’s protagonist, is likeable enough to carry the film, despite not having chemistry with his on-screen romance, Bell. P.J. Byrne also makes a decent jerk, but the standout here is Fisher. Is anyone pleasantly surprised? Well you’re about to be disappointed because the actor is only memorable for being astonishingly horrible. The Hollywood template states that every successful horror film requires someone to snap, fall into deep insanity, and turn on those who were once his friends. Here, it’s Friedkin, who, distraught over his lover’s sudden death, toys with the idea of murder. Fisher, in his role, takes hammy to another level.
Midway into the film, a woman screamed. She announced that she was “too scared” to watch any more of Final Destination 5. Scared, I think, was the wrong word. More like repulsed, and that’s perfectly acceptable. In fact, one can attribute that to both the gratuitous violence and the competent 3D that’s glossed over it. From the start, Quale, who studied under special effects master, James Cameron, tries to convince us that those extra $3 were worth it. And whether it’s through the film’s opening credits, which has everything from blood-soaked knives to prosthetic limbs and doors being flung towards you, or allowing audience members the barbaric pleasure of watching an eyeball roll off the screen, he makes it a worthwhile add-on.
But I fear that, after having seen the film (and enjoying it), I won’t have the pleasure of seeing any more blockbusters utilize the technology as effectively because, as I said before, I’m already en route to Kings County’s Mental Health Ward.
Enjoy your sick pleasures.

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