Final Destination 5 (2011)
Having recently re-watched all of the Final Destination franchise, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing about them. However, they are a somewhat formulaic series of movies and I’m not sure if they each warrant a review to substantiate their respective merits or failings. The first movie was satisfactory in establishing the underlying theme of the franchise and came up with some innovative death scenes. The second instalment was a satisfactory sequel, that upped the ante and gave more of the same. Part three was noticeably superior to what had proceeded, with a more accessible group of protagonists and wider exploration of the idea of death seeking to restore its plan. The fourth film jumped onboard the trend for 3D movies, but effectively became a caricature of itself. The characters were two dimensional and the movie just felt like a group of flamboyant set-pieces, clumsily dovetailed into a contrived bridging plot. However, and somewhat unusually, it is the fifth iteration of Final Destination, that tries to do something different and so is the entry in the series that I’d like to explore further.
Now we all know the storyline for this franchise, don’t we? (No? Well I suggest you cram via this link). As ever, Final Destination 5 hinges upon a group of people, escaping a catastrophe due to one of them having a premonition. On this occasion it is a group of employees who are travelling to a company retreet. They manage to avoid a rather spectacular suspension bridge collapse, only to be grilled by the FBI who find their miraculous survival a little too convenient. Furthermore, at the memorial service local coroner William Bludworth (Tony Todd) ominously tells the survivors that "Death doesn't like to be cheated," and tells them to be careful. Elaborately contrived death scenes then ensue, including an accident involving laser eye surgery and a nasty fall by a gymnast from a balance beam. Yes, it’s more of the same in the shock horror department, but the movie is less jovial and darker in tone this time round. Final Destination 5 attempts to vary the established rules of the previous filsm and add a new twist. Previous instalments have always sought a solution to appease death. This time round a much bleaker proposition is offered. Kill another person to balance the books. This new theme provides an additional moral dilemma alongside the protagonists existing knowledge of their own doom.
Let me stress that any praise offered is still relative. These are disposable horror movies, designed to be enjoyed and not pondered upon. But within its own context, Final Destination 5 managed to re-invigorate the franchise in a similar way that Friday 13th Part 6: Jason Lives did back in 1986. It’s arguably the most thoughtful entry in the series for a long time and not a bad horror film in itself. If you’ve not seen any of the prior instalments, then this can be a perfectly good starting point. However, let us maintain a sense of proportion. This film is no The Thing or Misery. Although it is slick, fun and features Tony Todd being as creepy as fuck, it is no more than the sum of its parts. Curiously, despite being well received by fans, some critics and doing well at the box office, the franchise ended here and there have been no further sequels. However, with horror becoming the flavour of the month with film studios once again, may be a reboot or new entry will be forthcoming. In the meantime, mind how you cross the road, watch you step and avoid chalk dust.