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Final Destination 5 is more of the same, but it’s well-directed, squirm worthy, suspenseful entertainment

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Severed limbs and other bloody objects fly at the 3-D screen in Final Destination 5, the latest entry in the popular horror series.

The Final Destination franchise has certainly earned its keep by exploiting everyday paranoia. It’s the world where a leaky air condition unit can result in dismemberment. A world where going to the spa equals death. Or, in the case of Final Destination 5, it's a world where a windstorm causes an entire bridge to collapse.

Let’s just get to the point here. The Final Destination series (save for the first) was never about high art. What started out genuinely creepy gave way to numerous sequels that relied on black humor and gratuitous shock violence. We all know they will die, but how exactly will they die and how clever will the film be in executing that task.

This is the formula applied to all of the sequels including Final Destination 5, which manages to come off awfully fresh for a franchise riding on fumes.

The movie opens with a grandiose tragedy, a trademark of these movies. A group of college graduates, led by Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) and Molly (Emma Bell) are on their way to a retreat when Sam has a premonition while the bus crosses a large suspension bridge. In the vision, the bridge starts to literally collapse in moments. The group tries to make it to safety, but unfortunately every one of them dies. Bridge wires slice people in half. Hot tar melts off someone’s face, and in a wonderfully excessive 3-D moment, one victim is impaled.

Of course, true to form, Sam comes to on the bus and realizes it was all a dream of sorts and the horrific event hasn’t happened just yet. He scrambles to get everyone off the bus and manages to lead the passengers to safety. Everyone is relieved, but little do they know death has other plans for each and every one of them.

 

Final Destination 5 was directed by Steven Quale, who is reportedly a protégé of James Cameron (he must be proud). It should be noted that the film is an overall step above previous efforts and perhaps the strongest sequel in the franchise. Quale is highly effective at making the audience squirm every which way, and this is before anyone even dies.

There are several moments where the suspense dial is cranked to the max. Two sequences in particular, one involving a small screw on a balance beam and another in an eye exam room, are unbearably tense. This is because Quale and screenwriter Eric Heisserer  make the horror relatable. Watching someone severed in half, that’s just silly, but watching another step on a tack, that’s excruciating. Photos: New Line Cinema

The 3-D in the film is first rate all the way. There’s an astounding credit sequence that utilizes the effect to its full potential as a kaleidoscope of blood, shattered glass, and other debris flies into the audience. The effect is used effectively on the bridge collapse as well, where the numerous demises are given a nasty spin. Elsewhere, the medium is far more immersive than usual and certainly enhances the experience.

An abundance of cheap silly gore and black humor prevent Final Destination 5 from being truly scary at any point in the game. That said, in terms of delivering the expected shocking, blood soaked goods, the film does so in spades with a bit of craft. For horror fans, this disposable late summer entry is a must see. Final Destination 5 doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but proves there’s still some viable blood left in this dwindling series.  

Contact Jim Teti at jteti@philly2philly.com

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Photos: New Line Cinema