Opening in theaters Friday, August 12
Directed by Stephen Quale
The latest chapter of Final Destination is easily the best sequel in the series to date. Reinvigorated with a sense of cleverness, Final Destination 5 excels where previous “part fives” in other horror franchises have failed. It distills the concept to the bare basics and throws out the desire to excessively layer on or needlessly twist the rules â€“ a problem found in the previous sequels. The film is a real reward for the die-hard fans who felt the films were getting a bit stale.
Chalk up this sequel’s success to the addition of new blood, so to speak, behind the camera. James Cameron vet, Stephen Quale and writer Eric Heisserer gleefully keep their audience on its toes with some inventive, menacing misdirection that ultimately build, of course, into glorious explosions of violence. It also helps that Quale understands the use of 3D and this is proven immediately in the film’s opening disaster sequence.
The bridge collapse here tops any similar cinematic sequence that has come before it (including The Mothman Prophecies, which elicited a few good chills). Cars tumbled into the water, bodies slide across pavement, and when a character falls to her death only to be impaled through the chest, guts jettisoning from the screen and in your face, rest assured you’re in the confident hands of someone knows how to orchestrate the necessary mayhem Final Destination 5 asks for.
Quale and Heisserer, on a few occasions throughout the film, are able to deftly match the “oh shit!” sensibility you get from the bridge disaster sequence, which has been tough for previous sequels. There is always that inherent struggle to out-do the slew of kills that come in the film’s opening minutes. When the survivors start getting bumped off in this one, it’s a lean and mean ride with some truly outrageous sequences. Who would have thought gymnastics could be so brutal? Or that a chain of minor occurrences can lead to a wicked nasty laser eye surgery session, deadly not just for the patient, but for a teddy bear as well?
It’s definitely during these moments of mutilation Final Destination 5 wields its smarts. But there’s an added element to freshen things up that doesn’t dominate the core mythology of the series or try to, as aforementioned, “rewrite the rules.” The survivors learn this time that if they take a life, they’ve gained a life. So, tapping into murderous impulses presents one more threat in Final Destination 5, and it’s a good one that results in some amusing pay-offs.
Leads Nicholas D’Agosto and Emma Bell, as Sam and Molly, are rather dry, even though their characters are given more drama than most leading roles in these films. At the start of the film, the two have ended their relationship so Sam can pursue his career as a chef in Paris. The story touches on this friction â€“ he wants to stay for her, she wants him to move on â€“ and it’s certainly welcome, but D’Agosto and Bell wander through it, only coming to life when “Death” comes a-callin’. The supporting cast is far more energetic, including the weasel Isaac (P.J. Byrne) and the love child of Christian Bale and Tom Cruise, Peter (Miles Fisher). In spite of some problems, it’s a good effort to flesh out some decent characters. And let’s not forget Tony Todd as Bludworth. Expect him to be his usual cryptic self.
Following a tepid Final Destination 3 and downright abysmal The Final Destination, it’s good to see a new film soaring with its Grand Guignol flavor in a smart, enthusiastic fashion again. Final Destination 5 relishes in making you squirm, making you cackle and pulling the rug out from under you (which it certainly does in its finale), and for that, I loved every cutthroat, nutty, extreme minute of it.