a Primal Root written review
Death in the cinema is a strange subject. On one hand it can be dealt with as something gentle, life affirming and even heroic. On the other hand…it can be cynical and used to make us laugh and/or vomit. Then there’s The Final Destination franchise…the now five sequel deep slasher franchise that cuts out the middle man by casting Death itself as the main antagonist. And let me tell you, Death is one Hell of a creative genius when a debt is owed.
If you’ve seen the first film you are already in on the basic structure of these stories. A group of cliches get together around some form of transit and end up narrowly escaping a horrific death thanks to someones psychic vision. See, the shitty part of the deal is, now Death has it out for you because it didn’t get to burn you alive or shred you into several dozen meaty chunks when it was supposed to. This is when Death dons his little black beret, grows a hipster mustache and goatee, grabs his paint brush and gets to work crafting some of the most ridiculous/gut churning deaths it can come up with.
And for whatever reason, I cannot help coming back for more. A lot of that is due to the fact I really enjoy the first three films as excellent examples of grand guignol entertainment kept lively with a mischievous, demented penchant for black comedy and even building suspense, in some cases, as to when and how people will meet their demise which will either be brutal, shocking, hysterical or a combo punch knock out of all three.Final Destination 1-3 delivered the goods for me but the premise seemed to finally be wearing out by the time part part 4 (THE Final Chapter) was farted out into theaters under the guise of being the last installment much like Friday the 13th part 4: The Final Chapter did decades before. They added 3D, removed any attempt to make the characters interesting or even remotely likable. But worst of all? The kills just felt dreary and uninspired which could be a result of the audience not feeling a damn thing or caring at all for the folks in peril.
And, as we all know, when money talks sequels walk, THE Final Destination turned out to not be the last stop after all! Here we are with a brand new 3D misadventure! Final Destination 5 avoids any pretense of being the final installment in this notorious horror film series and, instead, gives us a return to form from a franchise that really felt dead in the water after it’s shittacular fourth outing.
Here, we are introduced to a young man who has to choose between following his culinary dreams of studying under a master chef in Paris, France or his ridiculously attractive and sweet girlfriend. First, he and his fellow coworkers and friends must survive a corporate team building retreat. They all gather on a bus and head for a rickety old suspension bridge…that’s having some work done…as dark clouds and high winds approach…and Dust in the Wind by Kansas (BRILLIANT comic timing by death.) plays on the radio. Who knew he was also a disc jockey on the side?
Anyone with even the tiniest crumb of knowledge of this series of films will know what happens next. Yes, the bridge begins falling apart. Piece by piece and our main cast is crushed, splattered, impaled, and in possibly the most horrific death I have yet seen in this franchise, (SPOILER!!!!!) doused with a barrel full of molting tar…I’m not going to lie, I genuinely got queasy at this one. (END SPOILER!!!!!) And in this sequence, especially, you can see where that 3-D budget paid off in spades. Sail Boat shot, anyone?
Of course, the gang survives thanks to the young chef fellow’s vision and Death starts visiting them one by one to collect in it’s trademark visceral, grisly fashion. I’m going to try and avoid as many spoilers as possible, but never, ever assume you know what’s going to happen in any of these death scenarios. That fucker is a master of misdirection in this entry and most kills come right out of left field which makes the movie that much more enjoyable to experience. Many times, once you finish cringing in shared agony, you can’t help but crack up a bit in cynical laughter…I call this the America’s Funniest Home Videos principal.
Final destination 5 also features the triumphant return of one of my favorite elements of the franchise, the ever awesome Tony Todd, as William Bludworth, mortician by trade and the only person who seems to really understand the nature of Death’s “design”. Bludworth was featured in FD 1&2, was the voice heard coming from the Satan Roller Coaster in FD3 but was totally missing from THE Final Destination. Let me tell you, having him back dropping his typical cryptic hints for those waiting on death’s arrival to decipher, is a much welcome and needed element in these films. As a sort of bystander, Bludworth is the only connection or walking dead have to the rules and laws that death goes by. Still, at this point in the series we all know no matter what rules you follow Death will get you in the end. No matter what. No one survives. Bludworth should really just be throwing his arms in the air and saying, “Man, I’m sorry, but you’re kind of fucked.”
Another aspect of Final destination 5 that I really appreciate is that the film’s writers tried their damnedest to add some story to this thing. After THE Final Destinations lack of any kind of attempt at narrative story telling I was nervous going into Final Destination 5 expecting the same sad ride of faceless characters getting their poopers sucked out by pool drains. Instead, we are treated to a bit of a love story, an investigation and even a man trying to come to grips with the terrible hand life has dealt him and is steadily driven crazy. It’s no Citizen Kane, that’s to be understood, but I can always grin and appreciate when a screenwriter takes a tired, done to death (excuse the pun.) premise and tries his or her best to give it something more than just the glorious blood and body parts flying at the audiences faces in the magnificent 3rd dimension!
The cast of the film is rounded out by some familiar and, dare I say, talented faces. Not only is Tonyy Todd (Candyman) in on the festivities, Emma Bell (Walking Dead), Courtney B. Vance ( from Law & Order: Criminal Intent. My favorite incarnation of the series. ), Miles Fisher (Gods and Generals and a dead ringer for Tom Cruise) and even a few other guest appearances from past Final Destination alumni (hmmm) make the best of their time on screen and give the material more credibility than many would suggest it deserves.
In the final analysis (see what I did there?)Final Destination 5 reestablishes everything I enjoyed about the franchise in it’s early days. This is the 3-D entry that should have been. It’s an apologetically dark film laced with that same sick humor that made the original trilogy an enjoyable viewing experience. Especially with a crowd.
Final Destination 5 gives us some new twists and turns and even packs in an awesome twisted ending that’s sure to please all the old school fans and intrigue those new to the franchise.Final Destination 5 is brutal, trashy and fun and if you are a fan or someone who knows this is something they might enjoy it is definitely worth checking out in it’s 3-D format.
Could Final Destination 5 really be…A New Beginning?