"the trendy de-numbered title does nothing to hide the liver spots and sagging belly of a franchise that should've ended around number 2." Instead I must grimace at the fact that we've got another of these things to watch.
In Final Destination 5, our flavourless "characters" of the week are headed by Sam, a sales administrator for a paper company, who foresees a calamitous suspension bridge disaster on his way to a company retreat. He saves himself and seven of his colleagues with this foreknowledge, but as per usual, Death doesn't take kindly to being cheated and begins to systematically rectify their fates. However, courtesy of a mysterious coroner, the survivors are told that they could potentially save themselves by sacrificing an unmarked soul to Death's design.
While I hate to say I told you so, I refused to name Final Destination 4 as the definitive article we were supposed to, precisely because I knew we'd be here again two years down the line. The fourth instalment was amongst my least favourite films of 2009, and this one once again resets to zero for the opening. There are no existing survivors to let our new characters know the score, save for the infuriatingly unhelpful Tony Todd, returning to the series for the first time since Final Destination 2. And it still takes about the same time as it did in the previous instalment for them to catch up with the audience.
Why do people get these premonitions? How does the coroner know so much? These are questions that might be interesting to answer, even if whoever's working on the sequel has to simply make shit up. After you make five films, these are questions that arise, and the answers might even justify the continued flogging of this dead horse franchise. Normally, when horror sequels dedicate time to expanding a mythology by explaining all the shit that happened in the original, it takes the horror out of it. These films have long since stopped being scary, so at this point, an attempt to genre-hop might yet revive the series.
It's cold comfort to say that this one does more new stuff with the formula than any of the films since Final Destination 2, but I should give credit where it's due. The idea that lives are interchangeable, and specifically that killing someone else grants you a reprieve, plus the remainder of that person's time on this planet, is a strong premise, and one that might have deserved a film all to itself. Because the characters take so long to catch up with the basic premise, however, this isn't really explored, except in a third act heel-turn that is as interesting as the film gets.
I also grant that this one has more inventive death sequences than in the most recent instalments. Although you're always aware of who's going to die from the very beginning of each of these sequences, the manner of their passing is much less predictable in the past. Rather than a straightforward progression from "Ooh look, there's a rusty hook" to a grisly death, there are more red herrings, and more tricks in terms of execution. As I said, it's cold comfort, but it's not a total waste of film.
Final Destination 5 is now showing, in 2D and 3D, at cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Final Destination 5, why not share your comments below? And honestly, are there any really good horror sequels?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.