The Series Project: Final Destination (Part 2)
Final Destination 5 (dir. Steven Quale, 2011)
So this film, a proper slasher, does feature adults in the central roles. It was made for less money than its predecessor, but somehow looks slicker and more professional. The pacing is better, the tone is better, and the characters are more interesting (well, as interesting as future corpses need to be). It's wicked and fun. There is an unfortunate attempt to change the premise ever so slightly, but it's not so egregious that it interferes with the wicked-fun fatalism hanging over the whole series.
The vision-haver this time is Sam (Nicholas D'Agosto) who is going on an off-site team-building retreat with the petty wonks in his office. His boss is played by David Koechner. Emma Bell plays his girlfriend. His arch enemy is played by Miles Fisher. Since Fisher and D'Agosto look so alike, it was hard to tell who was fighting whom in the kitchen-set climax. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The vision Sam has is a bridge collapsing. Crash! Kaboom! He freaks out, eight of his co-workers get off the bus, and they are the ones to be stalked by Death for the next 85 minutes. Cut to laser eye surgery accidents and unfortunate acupuncture mishaps.
Director Quale is new to the series, but he knows what he's doing, grabbing the pulpy, gory fun of the series and delivering it without any unneeded narrative flourish. He just makes a solid film, giving more than the series has had to date; Final 5 is easily the biggest and most professional of the series.
Bludworth (Tony Todd) appears in this film, explaining – only briefly – the rules of the Death game. It's not until now that we're introduced to a new wrinkle in Death's plot: To escape being killed yourself, you can murder another person and essentially use them to take your place is Death's Mouseketeer role call. This means that not only are people suffering horrible accidents, but they must also avoid bloodthirsty peers who would murder them to survive. I suppose that is a good way to shore up the danger quotient for the audience. Although it does mean that Final 5 does have a few boring slasher movie scenes of one persona stalking another in an enclosed location. I thought we didn't need that in the Destination movies. The nearby rotisserie machine can kill you all by itself, thank you very much. We had already moved past the people-who-hunt-people trope. Oh well.
That final, inevitable confrontation does take place in a kitchen, and I couldn't tell which one was Sam and which one was Peter. Two similar nondescript white guys grappling on the floor in the dark isn't exactly the most interesting thing to look at.
But the climax is saved by an elaborate epilogue wherein our heroes are seemingly safe months later. This is a common element from all the movies, by the way: Just when you think everything is safe, you've escaped Death, and months have passed, you'll still die in a final accident. This element in in tact for Final 5, but it's the cleverest epilogue of the series, and does put a nice button on the entire run of Destinations. I encourage you to find out what the epilogue contains for yourself.