Final Destination 5 Review – Rube Goldberg Would Be Proud (Or Horrified)

Yell! Magazine review:

I don’t really think I can say anything that will deter fans or encourage haters with respect to whether or not they’ll see this movie. Considering that it’s the fourth sequel to a franchise built around an admittedly awesome premise, it’s pretty much a film that caters to fans of the one big question:

“How many ways can we creatively crush, charbroil, dismember or explode a group of attractive 20 somethings this time around?”

By now though, the formula is starting to wear thin and a once innovative idea is playing itself out and being milked for all the sweet, sweet cash that it can rake in.

Before I go any further, however,  I will say this; Final Destination 5 is probably the most clever film in the entire series, and may even convert a few people who are on the fence about seeing it. Let’s just say if you’ve always been “curious”, then this is the movie to experiment with.

Final Destination 5 picture
Can't see how this could go wrong.

The plot follows the same structure as the last four films; a group of actors who you’ve never heard of (Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, PJ Byrne, Arlen Escarpeta – also, David Koencher) go on a company retreat where nice-guy protagonist Sam Lawton (Nicholas D’Agosto) has himself a fancy premonition and decides that he and his friends best GTFO, lest they wind up scattered all over the place. After they escape with their lives, death gets a little pissed and decides to take them out while hiding under the guise of devastating coincidence. As a quick stab at building character development that ultimately leads nowhere, expository black-guy Sam Bludworth (Tony Todd) explains a twist wherein this time around, if you kill someone, you gain their remaining life span.

Now, the problem with having a swirling tornado of cause and effect serve as your main slasher is that it’s a concept that’s hard to take seriously. When your death is kicked off by slipping on a pile of ramen noodles, you know that any fear or tension you’ve built up is completely tossed out the window. With that in mind, the sequels (especially the later ones) have played around with black humor and eventually devolved into a contest of “which film can be the most self-aware?” The cool thing about FD5 is that it seems that they’ve just about found the right balance.  You’ll find your balls in your throat as the suspense builds higher and higher and you’re baited and switched until your nerves jump right out of your skin. When the death scene punch-lines are finally delivered, you’re surprised, laughing and cringing.

And if you think about it, the suspense is what makes these films so much fun. It’s not necessarily a question of who’s going to die- that sort of thing is revealed in the initial premonition. The best part is in finding out how they’re going to die – with no cheap tricks to surpass our expectations. Remember Final Destination 4? Remember how that one guy fell victim to a pool drain by having his internal organs sucked through his rectum? Yeah, they definitely try a lot harder this time around. At this point, there’re so many close calls that you might just have a stroke before anyone even bites it.

And surprise surprise, it pulls this film ahead of all the others. The primary disaster gore-fest and the first death alone left audiences clutching their chests. Being the ultimate fine-arts loving faceless bad-ass that I am, I try my best not to visibly squirm in my seat. Truth is, deep beneath my façade of manliness, I had soiled my shorts many a time.

Final Destination 5 - Tony Todd picture
"Don't forget to steal your 3D glasses."

Director Steven Quale really gets to have some sick fun with his technological prowess through some resourceful usage of 3D, which seems to be the icing on the cake for a series such as this. To give you an example as of what kind of visual treat you’re in for, just picture comic relief guy #7 about to be obliterated by – I don’t know – an accelerated hail of golf balls. As the usual malignant chain of events is set in motion, you get a first person view of the last thing he sees before the inevitable. Irreverently having limbs, entrails and sharp objects being flung straight at you while some poor archetype kick the bucket really launches this series into the guilty pleasure zone that’s it’s been trying to hit for so long.

In fact, given the combination of shock and suspense, Alfred Hitchcock’s bomb under the table concept has never been used more perversely. Basically, it works like this; you have two people picking away at a boring conversation and the camera pans down to reveal *GASP* a bomb under the table! Suddenly Martha’s complaints about her dentist’s excessive profanity tend to carry a lot more dramatic weight. Now imagine that folded in to a scene where the bomb is replaced by some spooky foreshadow, supplemented by the lingering thought that something pointy is about to be thrust inches from your face. It only adds to the aforementioned chest-clutching.

Final Destination 5 - Laser eye surgery picture
Heheh "Eye Scream" Heheh

It takes a sequel like this to breathe life into a potentially dying franchise, and the producers have already stated that if this one does well, we’ll be treated to Final Destinations 6 and 7. By the look of it, if they can manage to keep things as thrilling as they did with FD5, then we could be in for something very interesting.

The Verdict: [rating:3]

While you could nitpick like a pretentious, curmudgeonly turd about how there is no substance to be found in what amounts to a film that serves only as a visceral experience, it could be argued that you’d be completely missing the point. Yeah, it’s not The Shawshank Redemption, but it was never meant to be in the first place. Final Destination 5 is just amazingly stupid fun that’ll take you on a roller coaster ride of bisection and dismemberment. If that sounds like your idea of a fine movie-going experience, then I guarantee that you’re in for a screaming good time.

Note: Don’t be surprised if someone in the next sequel narrowly avoids being butchered, bludgeoned and generally eviscerated, only to be hit by lighting or crushed by a meteor. You heard it here first, folks.

Final Destination 5 Trailer

Final Destination 5 poster
Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
Year Released:
12 August 2011
Steven Quale
Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe, Arlen Escarpeta, Tony Todd and Arlen Escarpeta
Horror, Thriller
Official URL:
Final Destination 5

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