It’s back again, and now in properly fantastic 3-D!, the latest instalment of the Final Destination saga; which opens with a bombastic 3 minute intro sequence where random objects such as smashing glass, kitchen knives and exploding propane tanks, fly at the viewers; lets you know you’re in for a good time. I’ve been more than critical of 3-D being rubbish on the big screen, but Final Destination 5 is 3-D done well, and whilst we are reviewing the DVD here, it’s a big selling point of the film, and it’s got to be talked about; even on the smaller disc, you can tell which parts are 3-D and they look good on that too! The gore is suitably restrained and splatters all over the camera in abundance, setting up a more than enjoyable fifth outing for the preposterous premonitions that once again lead people down a bad road.
This time round, trainee chef Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto, Heroes) leads a sassy, colourful, group of young people/co-workers off a bus in time to prevent them from being killed off in a horrific bridge disaster. His premonition saves the group; including his on/off girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell, The Walking Dead) and best friend Peter (Miles Fisher, Superhero Movie), but Death soon begins to come after them with a far more gruesome ends than were previously planned for the unlucky survivors – cue complicated traps, impalements, and the reason why I won’t be having my eyes surgically corrected by lasers any time soon.
Since this is the fifth outing of the Final Destination franchise, I hope most people are ahead of me on the film’s style – less than subtle foreshadowing throughout the film (like shadows falling on characters just before they get bumped off; something which usually bothers me as it’s so cheesy) – and for something that kind of invites you to join in and watch this as a spectacle, rather than a straight horror film, and it works. Minor things at the bridge add to the atmosphere, like wind effects and things falling off before the disaster strikes, builds tension and excitement for the impending extravaganza of death, but if there’s one thing I wished they ditched this time round, it’s that they really should have abandoned the sped-up death scene after the premonition; it takes you right out of the film when you see the fabulous bridge scene they built up to rendered mute in about a twentieth of the time the premonition took; squishing it’s effectiveness like a bug.
This is actually the director Steve Quale’s directorial debut (he co-directed Aliens Of The Deep, a documentary with James Cameron, and has alot of cinematography and producing credits to his name, but this is his first solo, fictional, budget hollywood film), and the results are mixed. Whilst his style is clear(ish), there are plenty of odd, and ill-fitting, shots – for example, there’s a lingering 30 second shot of Sam cooking a meal in his workplace with no real reasoning behind it (it doesn’t add to Sam as a character or progress plot) – and it’s a shame when you compare the duff parts to the brilliant ones (such as a panning shot which does build and add to the tension of some of the kills Quale proves he’s capable of delivering later on in FD5). Final Destination 5 is an okay debut but hopefully his Hollywood mate Cameron will give him some advice for his next project.
The cast is, well… unknown. I had to hunt down filmographies for a lot of the main survivor group, and most will count FD5 as their first major role on the big screen (largely coming from TV backgrounds), though some recognisable names do pop up; the company boss is played by David Koechner (Anchorman’s Champ) in a slightly humorous role and Candyman himself, Tony Todd, returns to the franchise after his last proper sighting in Final Destination 2. D’Agosto does deserve credit though, as despite his hesitance on taking the role of Sam (He admits relucatance after the poor showing from FD4) he did very well, and I think we’ll be seeing more from him as a leading man as his career grows.
The script overall leaves a bit to be desired; it’s not poor delivery per se but when you get fantastically bad lines like “someone call 911!” after a girl has been snapped in half falling off an athletic pole, it doesn’t inspire. Another example is the police detective investigating the bridge accident says to one of the survivors “2 deaths, that’s a coincidence, but 3? Come on!” after the random deaths of Death’s surplus souls begin to interest him. Surely even after one accidental death in dubiously suspicious circumstances, he would be more suspicious and have the survivors on lockdown? Instead, it makes him look like a weak detective who can’t do his job properly. Also, I’m not sure why one of the group goes mental towards the end of the film and goes after another survivor, rather than pushing a random woman into the path of a speeding truck (when he realises he can kill someone else to save his own skin). There should have been more effort in explaining what’s happened, and in the end it all boils down to poor character development.
Whilst it is entertaining to see the various horrific ways Death decides to bump our unlucky heroes off, there are just too many near misses and teases; sure some build tension and play a part in the kill, but there were others where you think “Are they just killing time here?” Some of the deaths also happen way too quickly to appreciate, and I don’t think there was one decently timed straight kill that the audience could take in and enjoy on every level.
There are a couple of interesting new spins on the old formula however – if our heroes want to keep on living they have to kill someone else and claim their remaining lifespan before death comes for them; creating a decent morality take on the franchise (could you, as a human being, kill someone else just to save yourself?), which provides some great moments, and credit is due for whoever injected this original idea into what could be lagging franchise.
Not to give anything away, or pepper this review too heavily with spoilers, there’s also a very neat twist at the end of Final Destination 5, and if you’re a long time fan of Final Destination, you will not be disappointed with the last couple scenes. There are clues to it during the film so if you keep an eye out you maybe able to figure it out before the end. As a cheeky bonus, they even include a “best of” kills montage from the previous films, played up in the glorious 3-D carnage. It’s shame we’re looking at the DVD here since it would be fabulous to see carnage unfolding in three dimensions (hint hint).
Despite a few gripes, Final Destination 5 has breathed new life in a flagging horse, and, even though I’m not really sure where else they’re going to go from here, the final scenes should hopefully call time on a decent, alternative, morbidly fun, horror franchise.
Here’s where I feel like I’ve missed out; clearly Final Destination 5 was made to be enjoyed in 3-D but alas such bountiful treats were not bestowed on me as we’re reviewing the DVD here. Still, the picture is surprisingly sharp and clear. The 3-D parts stick out like a sore thumb mind, but if you can accept that you’re not watching the film in the format it’s intended for, you’re in for a treat.
Everything’s in order here, as Final Destination 5 comes to DVD with a suitably blasting soundtrack, and orchestral music to suit mood and tension throughout film, which is finely replicated with a high-class Dolby Surround 5.1 mix.
It’s a shame they’ve only included a handful extra content; including one horribly short 5 minute documentary about the film with cast and crew, touching on really interesting techniques about the makeup and practical effects which we should’ve seen more of. Also look out for Koechner mucking about backstage in his melted face/tar make up! There’s an alternative death scene and a special feature of the bridge accident scene but otherwise, a criminal lack of extras.
The Bottom Line:
I went into Final Destination 5 expecting to totally hate it since it didn’t really look like the franchise could go anywhere new, and it’s not without its faults, but once I realised just how fun and creative the ridiculous kills could be, I was onboard. Leave your brain at the door, kick back, and enjoy the mayhem that unfolds in this enjoyable slab of over the top horror which will entertain and surprise a few people. Plus, kudos has to be given to any film that can get you thinking metaphysically about Death’s grand plan, while you’re watching someone get skewered by a meat fork!
But I can’t stress enough how you should shell out to watch the 3D Blu-Ray over the DVD copy. I’ve moaned before about how some films aren’t meant to be seen in 3D, but Final Destination 5 has to be seen in 3D.