A Review of “Final Destination 5” (2011)

WARNING: SPOILERS INCLUDED.

As my regular readers will be aware “Final Destination” is one of my favourite modern horror franchises; I ranked the first film which was released back in 2000 as my number one favourite horror movie of the noughties; I enjoy the franchise because I like the concept of the killer being something you cannot see; instead of a knife/chainsaw wielding maniac; back in 2000 the first film was pretty unique but I admit now after spurning on four sequels the premise is slightly tiresome.

I have just recently viewed the latest instalment titled “Final Destination 5” (2011) at the Odeon Cinema in Bridgend and I went for the complete 3D experience. Prior to viewing the film I took down some notes regarding my general thoughts on the movie and what I was hoping to expect;

Firstly when I discovered the franchise was still continuing I was slightly surprised as I made the assumption that the film-makers were calling it a day after 2009’s “The Final Destination” that held the tagline “Death Saved the last for 3D”; As I will explain later in the review there is actually a significance for this. On the other hand I wasn’t completely shocked because this franchise falls into the horror genre that is famous for its endless sequels and “Final Destination” seems to be ranking up there with the “Halloween”, “Friday 13th” and “Saw” franchises in terms of the number of sequels.

I was excited to learn that Tony Todd was re-appearing in this sequel and in the trailers his character was used heavily to promote the film. I have been a fan of his ever since I saw his performance in “Candyman” (1992); I think he plays creepy and mysterious very well and adds a sense of enigma in the “Final Destination” movies.

I was very sceptical when I heard about this film coming out as I felt it had been done and completed; I would have been happy if the franchise had ended on the previous film; however the trailer depicted that the deaths in this film were going to be more uncomfortable than ever so it held my interest. I also really enjoyed the use of the 3D in the previous film; it was the first film I had seen in Digital 3D at that point so it was really exciting for me at the time therefore I had a high expectation for this one and hoped it would be used to the full effect. I went into the film not expecting too much character development as for me it’s more or less been non-existent since the second film “Final Destination 2” (2003). I was of course expecting a very formulaic plot and narrative. I hoped there would be nice little homage’s paid to the original film e.g. the nod to the heroine of the first and second films Clear Rivers in “The Final Destination”. I just generally hoped that we would see something different in this movie in order to shake the franchise up a bit.

Taking these expectations into consideration I’m now going to review my “final” thoughts on the film as a whole.

As I stated earlier in the review I enjoy the concept of the killer of the piece being something you ultimately cannot see and cannot escape; this film challenged this concept with the use of Tony Todd’s character through featuring him after every death scene had taken place and having the protagonist Sam confronting him. The mystery surrounding his character is heightened especially when he informs the survivors “I’m just doing my job”; this part of the narrative therefore has a double meaning as he turns around to reveal the word “coroner” on his jacket; is he simply just some morbid guy or is he death in the flesh? I think it’s cool that the writer allows the audience to interpret this factor however they want.

As the film began I thought it was incredibly clever when the 3D effect was in place to merge the two major film companies Warner Brothers and New Line into each other; that first moment made me excited about the 3D and left me wondering if they were able to top the opening title sequence of the previous film which I was really impressed by and thought was a nice touch. Differently to the last film, number five delves straight into the title credits which for me were still impressive but I enjoyed the fourth one better; it did still give me chills and it used its 3D effects to the max with glass and blood flying everywhere. The 3D throughout the film was used just as well and it was everything a 3D movie should be; I have seen several 3D films in the cinema and in all honesty the majority of them just use it as a marketing ploy in order to sell the films but fail to deliver; the latest “Harry Potter” being an example; I have found that its horror films that take full advantage of the effect such as “My Bloody Valentine” (2009) and “Piranha” (2010) along with “The Final Destination”. This film most definitely delivered; it was that intense objects were actually flying out right into the audience and many a time felt like they were right close to my face; it was really cool to make the audience feel even more involved with the movie; giving an interactive experience.

When it came to the death scenes I thought overall they were very inventive and uncomfortable however they began to lose direction and appeared slightly over the top resulting in an anti-climax. I loved the bridge collapse and felt more on edge in comparison to number three’s rollercoaster premonition or number four’s race crash but once the premonition scene had taken place it still felt anti-climactic as Sam was telling his co-workers to vacate the bus; when watching the first film the scene of Alex’s meltdown on the plane was incredibly dramatic and intense but in this one those two elements seemed to be non-existent; personally I think that was down to weak performances which I will discuss later. The most intense death scene for me was the massage parlour as it made the audience cringe once the character had several needles stuck into him then the cuts to the office scene in-between heightened the suspense; I enjoyed the irony of the character ultimately being killed by a Budda statue which is viewed as a figure of peace. The laser eye surgery death comes in at a close second for me, it really pushed the boundaries and echoed the dentist scene of the second film; I was in a predicament of “I don’t want to look but I can’t take my eyes off the screen”; again I felt they went way over the top with this scene and should have had her killed in the lab rather than flying out the window and having her eye fall out and ran over; it just made the whole scene humorous and completely off track; leaving me feeling disappointed. It later felt like the film makers were getting slightly lazy by the time it was Dennis’s (played by David Koechner) turn to meet the grim reaper; there was a rushed build-up and it didn’t even deliver shock value; making that scene my least favourite.

In terms of the concept of the film I respect the fact that the film-makers decided to try something new and had the original design challenged; it did freshen the film up and added a new dimension with the idea of surviving death by taking someone else’s life and adding their years onto your own. I also thought it was interesting keeping one survivor who didn’t meet a sticky end in the initial premonition.

As expected the characters were incredibly unlikeable; they possessed superficial qualities and I completely hated the majority of them especially after their disrespectful actions during the funeral scene for the disaster victims. I felt Peter (Played by Miles Fisher) was a more psychotic version of Carter (Played by Kerr Smith) from the original; their storylines were almost identical as both lose their girlfriends early on in the films. I mostly found the protagonist Sam (Played by Nick D’Agosto) and his girlfriend Molly (Played by Emma Bell) tolerable (note: what was with naming them after the characters from “Ghost” (1990)!!) however in the last part of the movie Sam’s character was completely screwed up once he’d committed the act of murder as it seemed completely out of character and rushed; yeah I realise it could be argued it was self defence but for me it seemed out of place and made the protagonist unlikable. The performances overall were pretty one-dimensional and weak and but as I said it is a horror sequel and the performances were never going to be in the same league as Devon Sawa and Ali Larter from the first movie.

The ending was slightly unexpected; I had made the assumption that all the hints indicated at Sam taking a job in Paris were in place as homage’s to the first “Final Destination” and that the narrative was ironic when we see Sam and Molly on the flight. The fact that we discover that the film as a whole was a prequel was interesting and I thought it was a fun idea and nostalgic especially the shot of the side of Sam’s face burning mirroring Alex Browning of the first movie. I thought it was fun and clever how they re-used the footage of the flight 180 passengers getting off the plane suggesting that Sam and Molly had been on the plane the whole time. Once the crash occurred it would have been the perfect place to conclude the film with the franchise coming full circle; however it became tarnished and unnecessary to show the remaining survivor Nathan (Played by Arlen Escarpeta) discovering that the guy who’s place he took was going to die of natural causes anyway followed by an explosion; but then again I guess in all the “Final Destination” films everyone must die and there are no survivors and the scene reminded us of that. As the film closed I felt it was fitting to have Tony Todd warn the audience “you all be careful now” and I did love the gory little montage at the end featuring all the previous deaths from the previous films in all its 3D glory.

So; “Final Destination 5”; overall the narrative was weak and formulaic but I enjoyed the film for the 3D and the gore and the twists and turns it presented us with; it was definitely a guilty pleasure!!

My best to worst “Final Destination” films in order:

  1. “Final Destination” (2000)
  2. “Final Destination 2” (2003)
  3. “Final Destination 5” (2011)
  4. “The Final Destination” (2009)
  5. “Final Destination 3” (2006)

Hayley Alice Roberts.

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