Final Destination 5, directed by Steven Quale, sets itself up to be the final in the Final Destination franchise, but the film also reveals that it is not last in the series’ chronological order. Although the Final Destination series as a whole is very predictable, this latest instalment brings something new to its supposed end with the addition of a couple of twists to make it that little bit more interesting. With the new rule of ‘kill or be killed’, can the group find a way of defeating death without turning against each other?
Beginning in the same way as the others, Sam Lawton (Nicholas D’Agosto) has a premonition of how he and his friends are going to die. This time around, Sam is sitting on a bus filled with his colleagues when he sees the bridge on which his bus is driving across collapse and all of his friends die in a variety of brutal and gore-filled ways. When awakening from his premonition, Sam tries to persuade everybody to get off the bus before the collapse of the bridge and subsequently everybody’s death replays in reality.
The survivors of the accident are named “The Lucky 8”. Sam and the other seven – his girlfriend Molly Harper (Emma Bell), his best friend Peter Friedkin (Miles Fisher), his boss Dennis (David Koechner), and his colleagues Candice Hooper (Ellen Wroe), Olivia Castle (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood), Isaac (P.J. Byrne) and Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta) – must now try to avoid death as it follows them around to correct the fate that Sam has changed. Death doesn’t like to be cheated, and one by one it begins to kill the eight survivors of the accident who are now living on death’s borrowed time.
The best part about this fifth Final Destination is the suspense in the killings of these survivors. As with the other films, there are various clues given to how somebody might die – the shadow of a clawed man, the flash of a bus in the reflection of a window, the focus of a faulty fan – but this film works at its best. Whilst you can sit guessing how they are going to die for ten minutes beforehand from this mass amount of clues (e.g. the constant collection of candles lit around the death scenes; you have thought they’d of learnt!), these focuses are only going to harm the victims or be the cause of their death. It’s the final blow to the body that the film gave us no clues to that shocks and surprises us; the film may have a predictable storyline, and we know that they will inevitably all die, but it’s this suspense and bloody horror that makes the film work.
As always, the cast is mainly a set of new faces and talent, apart from David Koechner who is mainly known for his role in Anchorman. Whilst he’s not a bad actor, it’s strange to see him in a serious film and you find yourself constantly half-expecting him to shout “WHAMMY!” at any second. As for the other actors, this is probably the highlight of their careers; it’s not often that the cast of Final Destination are seen in anything bigger after their fairly mediocre and clichéd portrayals of young Americans. But then it’s only for the gore that this film is successful for. Whilst their characters are believable as they lay dead in a pile of blood, it’s only Quale and writers Eric Heisserer and Jeffrey Reddick that need an applause.
Promoting itself as “The Best Final Destination Yet”, it wasn’t far off. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to persuade people to go and see it at the cinema. As with the Saw franchise, we know the storyline off by heart and it’s by the fourth/fifth film that we stop caring, with only a small minority of people still going to see the film out of pure curiosity for its truly disturbing death scenes. However, this fifth instalment is a must-see for fans of its predecessors, both to put an end to the franchise itself and to tie up some loose ends.
Final Destination 5 is also one of few films that’s worth going to see in 3D. Unlike many others that promote themselves in 3D just to jump on the bandwagon, Final Destination 5 was written to be in 3D, and it definitely takes full advantage of this.
Is this the final Final Destination film? Well, it set itself up to be by creating a loop to link all of the films together and ending with a montage of them all, but this is a franchise that could never end, so maybe it won’t.