The concept for the first Final Destination way back in 2000 brought fresh life to the horror genre. A group of teenagers narrowly escape a fatal accident. Death doesn’t take kindly to being cheated and so a series of accidents befall the survivors, picking them off in the order they were supposed to have died. The subsequent and inevitable sequels that followed were excuses for increasingly tiresome death sequences – a sort of filmic version of The Book Of Bunny Suicides.
Final Destination 5 doesn’t deviate from the well-worn treads of its predecessors. Sam Lawton and his fellow employees board a coach bound for a team-building business retreat. He has a premonition that everyone will be killed (use of the phrase “business retreat” almost justifies a brutal merciless death in any case) when the bridge collapses (a showcase for a series of grisly deaths which include an impalement and particularly nasty incident with some hot tar).
Warning everyone to get off the coach, Sam shepherds them to safety only for the survivors to start dying in a variety of horrible ways over the next few days. Coroner Bludwurth (series regular Terry Todd) helpfully informs them that death is coming for them and that the only way they’ll survive is by killing someone else and stealing their time.
Final Destination 5 does nothing that the previous installations haven’t done already. At its heart, it is just a series of interconnected and inventive deaths. But what it excels at is turning every object on screen into a potential hazard – that nail there, those loose fittings, those precariously placed knives – so much so that you start to become convinced that you’re going to be the victim of some kind of cinema-related fatality – choking on some popcorn, or sneezing and impaling your eyeballs on your 3D glasses for example. This is frequently played it up for macabre laughs – a scene which pans through a busy kitchen that includes deep fat fryer, numerous cleavers and meat grinder will provoke nervous titters.
The deaths themselves aren’t spectacularly gory. That’s a good thing. It’s not a film which revels in excessively graphic depictions of onscreen violence, after all that’s not scary, merely disgusting. What is fantastic is the level of tension that it effectively builds – the first gymnastics-related death is especially harrowing; cartwheels and handstands are performed while the camera focuses on an exposed nail. This is capped off by a surprisingly decent darkly humorous ending.
It’s a not a film which requires much acting talent (a good thing too because the young and largely unknown cast aren’t going to be taking home any gold on Oscar night) – they’re merely attractive youngsters to be brutally butchered. But Final Destination 5 is a film which knows its genre, and is ghoulishly effective in making you writhe in your seat in toe-curling apprehension.