Final Destination 5 (2011) – 2/5

Disappointing sequel to a film series I’ve inexplicably continued to be a fan of since attending and being thoroughly destroyed mentally by a theatrical screening of Final Destination 2 many years ago. The series has yet to reach those highs again, but every time one of these things come out, I secretly hope it will surpass or, at the very least, equal, the stomach-turning insanity that is Final Destination 2. So far, none have, but the potential is there, I’m sure of it!

And, given all the positive feedback this one has gotten, at least compared to the others, and the fact that its director is a protegé of James Cameron of all people, I hoped it would at the very least be a worthy addition to the Final Destination cannon. Alas, no; it’s one of the weaker of the series, if not the weakest. Granted I haven’t seen the fourth, but if this is supposed to be better, then no thanks.

It starts out interestingly enough, with arguably one of the coolest opening credit title shots I’ve ever seen. The whole thing is essentially a montage of **SPOILERS** various objects falling toward us through glass, objects that have in past films killed many a character in many a gruesome fashion. The blood was also a nice touch. **END SPOILERS** It goes on for almost five minutes, but it’s fun to watch, and made me scratch my head as to how exactly it was done. Very cool.

Then the movie starts and it all goes to hell. The acting is terrible, which would have  been okay had the plot been been at least somewhat effective, but it isn’t. The deaths are silly and cheap looking, and, worst of all, unimaginative. CGI gore just looks stupid. It’s not horrifying or disturbing, it’s just cartoonish. The bridge disaster sequence would have been so cool had they made even a slight effort to not make it look like garbage, and the first death in particular was so idiotic and fake. Come on.

And suspense? What suspense? You see things coming from a mile away, and they happen much too quickly to have any kind of effect on you. Where’s the ominous, nail-biting tension in the minutes before the car wreck scene in the second movie, or its sadistic, gore drenched aftermath of blood and flames? I remember watching that scene for the first time and feeling sick to my stomach by how intense and realistic it all was, but this had nothing like that, not even close. What a waste of this series’ initial premise, again.

And what was with all the Hollywood look-alikes? The guy who looks and sounds just like Tom Cruise, the girl who is a dead ringer for Megan Fox? It would have been interesting had they done something with it, even a subtle wink to the audience or something, but they don’t, so what gives? Why cast these people if you’re not going to do anything with them? To be funny? Well, you failed.

The third act does introduce kind of an interesting new element where **SPOILERS** death sort of takes over one of the marked characters and, suddenly, he becomes the one trying to kill everyone to save himself, **END SPOILERS** but it doesn’t go anywhere really and ends about how you’d expect. And the “police investigation” element showed a lot of promise too: you have a detective who is essentially hunting down the ultimate killer, death, and it’s interesting, but it’s barely even a subplot, and is quickly dropped in the third act. Lame. They could have at least explored it more. Not sure how exactly, but it’s the most interesting idea your film has had so far, so you can at least try, damn it.

And the ending, talk about nasty and sadistic. Come on. I understand **SPOILERS** that death was coming to them regardless, as it has in all the previous films, and the timeline twist was a nice touch, one I didn’t see coming at all, **END SPOILERS** but how it plays out is just cruel, and sad.

Ultimately, the movie just doesn’t work. It’s not well acted, the plot is paper-thin, and the deaths are rushed, uncreative, and, most grievously, not that suspenseful. This movie doesn’t even try. Maybe during the gymnastic scene a little, but there are so many other things it could have done to really stretch that moment out.

There’s a death scene in Final Destination 2 that I still consider one of the best, most disturbing of the series, and of any movie featuring a character being horribly dismembered, for that matter. It’s the elevator scene. If you’ve watched the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s so gosh darn tense and unpredictable, and, once it’s happening, is almost impossible to look away from. And it ends with a joke, of all things. The whole thing is so disturbing and brilliant, I loved it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, skip this movie and watch the second one instead, especially if you haven’t already done so. On a big screen, in surround sound. Sure it’s mindless and stupid, but on a purely visceral level, it’s one of the very best of its kind. Unlike this.

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