Like all successful horror franchises, the Final Destination series has suffered from the law of diminishing returns. After the refreshingly original series opener was released in 2000, the sequels were always going to be up against it, with the element of surprise largely removed. Viewers knew that there was no boogeyman to stalk the prey, but merely inventive death scenes to craft, along with red herrings to try and throw us all off-course. However, Final Destination 5 manages to mostly buck the trend.
After the usual premonition and disaster scene set up – in this case, the collapse of a suspension bridge and some suitably nasty vehicular carnage – we know it is only a matter of time before death starts to catch up with the survivors. This is where the series struggles, with elaborate deaths becoming more and more over the top, and in this case having to incorporate 3D (although the previous entry also utilised the technology). In the earlier films, the deaths really were accidents, whereas now the viewer is left trying to work out how the next character will die.
This latest entry has a couple of extra tricks up its sleeve, mind you. For example, with Tony Todd returning as the creepy coroner, the survivors learn that they may be able to cheat death by replacing themselves in the order in which they were due to die. So, for the first time, the survivors have a moral dilemma to consider – do they await their fate and accept it, or do they put someone else in their place? This throws up some interesting scenes and the way in which each character deals with this revelation is noteworthy. This doesn’t excuse the fact that the characters themselves are still quite under-developed and it’s difficult to really care whether they’ll survive or not, especially if they decide to take the option to preserve their own hide at the expense of another.
With this being a popcorn horror thriller, it is unlikely that you’ve paid your money to sit through a thought-provoking piece of cinema, and so we can allow the creators a bit of leeway here. The fact is that the characters that you want to see die, do so. There are some subtle and some not-so-subtle nods to the previous releases in the series littered throughout the running time and the ending definitely does not disappoint – especially after the complete cop-out ending of part four.
Overall, Final Destination 5 is a fun way to spend 92 minutes and it is doubtful that you’ll fail to wince at least once at the creative deaths on offer here. Hopefully, the studios involved will now decide to go out on a high and finish the series off with this one but, with another healthy profit recorded, that’s unlikely. After all, you can’t cheat death – or the box office………..
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