There were a lot of things I didn’t expect from “Final Destination 5”. First off, I didn’t really expect it to happen, but it did, so right out of the gate it defied my expectations. Was there really such a big audience just clamoring for a fifth chapter that they had to make this film? The second thing I didn’t expect was that I would enjoy “Final Destination 5”, but I sure as hell did. I guess that’s what I get for making assumptions—I made an ass out of u, me, and umption. “Final Destination 5” is not a good movie by any means, in fact in many ways it is barely competent, but goddamn it is a lot of fun.
The story is very near nonexistent. An office goes on a weekend business retreat. This particular office just so happens to be staffed exclusively good-looking early twenty-somethings that could all pass for teens. “Final Destination 5” looks like an episode of “One Tree Hill”. One of the campers, let’s call him the protagonist, has a vision of their grizzly demise when a bridge collapses beneath their charter bus. He freaks out and somehow convinces his friends to get off the bus just before his hallucination comes true with frightening accuracy. Since death doesn’t like to be cheated, you know this because the creepy coroner says so in every installment in the “Final Destination” franchise, the survivors start to drop one by one, in increasingly grisly fashion.
There are some cursory attempts to give the actors some sort of character to play, or add an actual plot, but “Final Destination 5” doesn’t try very hard. What the film does have, however, is a long string of some of the best movie deaths you’ve seen in a long time, all in 3D. From where I stand, this is the best possible use of 3D. When I put on those awkward, uncomfortable glasses, I want to see random things flying out of the screen. I want glass to shatter and the shards to come at me. I want a car to fall off a bridge and land on my face. I don’t care about brining some imaginary world to life in front of me and making me feel as if I’m right there—I don’t give a crap about that—I want needles and rebar and flying debris every few minutes. A collapsing suspension bridge is a perfect use of 3D technology, what with cables snapping, co-eds being sliced in half, and boiling tar pouring over a “Saturday Night Live” alumnus.
The tension in “Final Destination 5” comes from two sources. First is what you already know from the earlier films. Why waste time laying the groundwork of a story when all of the important things have already come in the four movies that came before? “Final Destination 5” stands squarely on those shoulders. The other source of tension comes from the Rube Goldberg-like death sequences. Each one is a series of long, slow shots where the camera pans around and shows seemingly every possible thing that could go wrong. You know someone is going to die, but what you’re trying to figure out is how, and they unfold in complex, seemingly random ways. Are they going to step on the upturned screw, catapult into the air, and land on the ground apparently safe, only to be crushed to death a falling air conditioner unit? Is the massage table going to buckle as their cell phone vibrates, knocking a candle into a pool of spilled alcohol? “Final Destination 5” spends most of its time and energy setting up these situations. You know what’s going to happen, but not how, and the how is what keeps you interested. I won’t spoil any of the deaths for you, but “Final Destination 5” does a good job keeping them fresh, again defying expectations. And, a big and, the deaths all make wonderful, and, sorry James Cameron, excellent use of the 3D technology.
Aside from the deaths, “Final Destination 5” is cheesy, ridiculous, and stupid, but in the best possible way. Every story element, every character, every plot point, is totally hackneyed and recycled, like the guy who wants to go to cooking school in Paris but doesn’t want to leave his girlfriend so she breaks up with him in order to make him choose the path that will lead to his happiness. It’s total drivel, but you will laugh your ass off. And just when you’re tired of the story, just when it is about to become annoying and not funny anymore and the pace start to sag, someone dies in spectacular fashion. It’s a win win. “Final Destination 5” is a perfect movie to see in a drive in or a crowded theater or drunk with a bunch of friends. There’s no motivation, and no attempts to figure out what is going on. In fact, when Tony Todd shows up out of the blue and tells the characters that death is out to even the score, they just accept his words as gospel truth without question. That dude said it, people are dying, so it must be true. They sort of try to stop it, but not really.
“Final Destination 5” is wall-to-wall impalings, eyes popping out all over the place, and wooden post-teen actors dying in horrific, entertaining ways. There’s not much else, but what the hell more do you want out of a schlocky horror flick? “Final Destination 5” is not good, not even close, but it is completely and totally awesome.