Night #19: Final Destination 5 (2011)

Directed By: Steven Quale

Death… doesn’t like to be cheated.”

 

Here’s a novel concept: A slasher movie in which we never see the killer. I don’t mean we don’t see his face, I mean we don’t see him – it – at all. Sound good? Then do I have a popular series for you!

The Final Destination series has a strange system. Sometimes with a franchise you can say that all the odd/even numbered ones are the best, but it’s rare that you can say the best parts are 2 and 5, which is the case here. Essentially each film follows the exact same formula; there’s a massive accident, turns out the accident is a premonition of a group of people, that person saves them from a real disaster and death cleans up. From there you get the point where they work out death’s design and try and defeat it. It’s as limited as any sequel is, yet it always finds some slightly new way to spin it. While Final Destination 2 is the best movie of the bunch, this entry offers some of the better twists on the formula. 

The one area that this really shows the law of diminishing returns is with the opening sequence. The first movie features a plane crash, the second is the peak with the highway wreck (It wouldn’t seem like it’s that exciting but the late David Ellis co-ordinates that action so well. It’s really a stunning sequence) and after that they sort of stop being interesting, even one set on a rollercoaster isn’t that good, and while i appreciate this one is a much bigger set piece than they’ve done before, it just doesn’t work quite as well not least due to some unfortunate CGI. 

This time, a bunch of office workers on their way to a retreat get into some trouble and of course Death, who seems to have a sick sense of humour, has to put them back to rest. Things unfold about the way you’d expect but with a little more of the you-think-this-thing-is-going-to-kill-them-but-it’s-really-this-thing stylings from Final Destination 2. One of the major problems with the other films is that it generally features the protagonist showing up to warn someone, failing, and then watching them die. This one, like 2 before it, really like to play around with the expectations of the audience instead of using a close up of their protagonists best O-Face. 

On the death’s themselves, lets just say I hope you’re not going to have any Lasik eye surgery any time soon. Other than that they’re all great, with some being built up in long protracted sequences (Like a unfortunate session with some acupuncture needles) and others coming swiftly out of nowhere. They’re all handled pretty well and remain fun to watch, though the cast aren’t all that interesting sadly. It’s not really their fault, they’re somewhat flatly written (To be fair, they weren’t great in Part 2 either, but they were diverse – something the other movies have lacked) and from a character standpoint the only one that really comes alive – so to speak – is the one who realises that if he kills someone else off then Death will skip him. It’s weird that it’s taken 5 films to get to this idea but here we are, and who says there’s no interesting material to be mined in a sequel?

To that end I won’t reveal the twist here, except to say that I love the way it was handled. It’s foreshadowed throughout the movie but not in an obvious or blatant way, but it’s there if you look for it. It’s great to have a twist that isn’t just shoehorned in there and more so one that rewards extra viewings. You’ll kick yourself when you spot the clues you missed. 

Final Destination 5 is a sequel done right, which is saying something coming off the awfulness of Parts 3 & 4. I don’t know if there’s going to be a Part 6 and I don’t know if there needs to be. I’m sure we’ll get a reboot in a few years though, and if it’s as fun as this one then I’ll be there opening night. 

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