Thursday, June 18, 2020

Death In Cycles: Final Destination 5 (2011)

Final Destination 5 (2011)
Rating: ****
Starring: Nicholas D'Agosto, Emma Bell, Arlen Escarpeta

Looks like 2009's "The" Final Destination wasn't the final destination. Good!

It's the corporate retreat of printing company Presage Paper and all of the white collar types are attending a camp for a team building experience. Enroute to the retreat however, employee Sam Lawton foresees the bridge's destructive collapse which not only kills everybody caught in the fall, but almost everyone in the company bus as well, including him.

Disturbed by this premonition, Sam tries to convince the others to get off the bus before the accident happens, successfully getting his ex-girlfriend Molly to go with him, followed by his concerned friends Nathan Sears and Peter Friedkin, Peter's girlfriend Candice Hooper, their boss Dennis Lapman, and finally his co-workers Olivia Castle and Isaac Palmer. True enough, the bridge starts tearing itself no soon after, killing a many and putting some suspicion on Sam considering all the conspicuous things he did before the collapse.

Nevertheless, not enough can be pinned on him so Sam is free to go and continue working in Presage Paper with his surviving colleagues and friends, even getting back with Molly who had some sort of epiphany from the accident and welcomes him to her life again. But not everything is fine and dandy as you can tell by this point of the franchise; Death, the cosmic weaver of fates, isn't happy that his design was cheated by some mortals so those who got off the bridge collapse starts to die one by one through a series of bizarre accidents, all in the order they were supposed to die in the vision. 

As our survivors start piecing together what's happening to them, it's only a matter of time for them to figure out how to beat the inevitable, which may or may not involve a suspicious mortician's advice that one can steal the remaining years of those not originally in Death's design through outright murder. A life for a life.

Looking into the basics of the franchise, the Final Destination movies all feature the core idea of Death being a cold, spiteful and sadistic cosmic force, but what differs for each is how their direction approached the notion; the first movie tackles this with some existential leanings, the second noticeably has a stronger emphasis on heightening the death count with a small twist on the gimmick, the third caters to how brutal death can get as a splatter flick and the fourth basically just made a dark joke out of it. 

Shot in 3D, Final Destination 5 is more or less a do-over of the series' previous chapter back in 2009 with The Final Destination, the franchise's supposed attempt to close itself with a bang. In this fifth serving, the movie tries to get back to the saga's roots, keeping the story as simple as they can while still maintaining the gore quota the franchise is associated with at this point. The result is technically another soft-reboot of sorts (like how Final Destination 3 (2006) and the aforementioned The Final Destination (2009) can stand as their own movies given how little they mentioned or tie-in the events of the first two films) but only with a much more respectable angle.

Straying away from the typical screaming teen victims, this entry looked for ways to expand its circle of working class characters from your cliched trappings, mostly through slower and quieter scenes in an attempt to make most of this lot more likable or at least interesting. This is used generously on the main three leads Sam, Molly and Peter, as two of them figure out where to go from their close encounter with the Omega, while the other's slowly driven insane on the notion that Death isn't and shouldn't be playing favorites. Without a doubt, we still have a few duds who are simply there to be the comic relief or the casual lamb for the slaughter, but they do make sitting through their moments worth the while considering the eye-candy demise they'll be getting into.

On that note, Final Destination 5 made a finer effort to blend in CG with practical effects for its 3D gimmick, unlike the 2009 prior which have majority of its murders done in obvious cartoonish digital graphics. It is noteworthy, however, that this entry's treatment of its gory accidents have more proper build-up to them, swaying us from one possible cause of death to another in nail-biting suspense before striking us with an unexpected bloody surprise. Furthermore, the chance this movie did to bend the mythos' rules a bit is also a clever touch as it introduces the possibility of human killers. And, sure enough, the climax treats us with a more brawl-out action thriller fight that kinda felt misplaced in a horror movie, but ties in fittingly either ways once we get to the finale.

Now, notice I never called this movie a sequel and there's a reason for that, but it falls into spoiler territories. It's a particularly nice touch of a twist, one that is almost completely hidden unless you take a gander at the pieces of technology everybody is using here, as well as the littered hints thrown here and there that hails back to the other Final Destination movies. This reveal ties the franchise altogether with a better and, dare I say, stronger knot and I wouldn't be any happier if this amazing entry is indeed our last foray into the series. (Hopefully, for now)

All in all, Final Destination 5 brought an tired formula back to life with the proper manic energy, a hint of grim mysticism and rightfully placed sympathy for its leading casts. (and then some) It's focus is without a doubt to be another movie for the franchise fans to chew on, from the random visions to the Goldberg-esque set-pieces but with a bit more messy meat and thought to it, a matter that horror fans can surely appreciate from a humble entry like this. See it and hail it!

86 individuals killed in bridge collapse
1 female mangled upon a bad landing from a balance beam routine
1 male had his head crushed by a falling Buddha statue
1 female falls to her death through a building window
1 male gets a construction hook through the head
1 male gets a flying wrench buried into his face
1 male shot to death
1 male impaled through with a barbecue skewer
1 female sucked out from a plane, bisected through a rudder
1 male incinerated in a plane explosion
1 male crushed by a falling plane wheel 
Total; 96

(Note: Not counting the rest of the passengers and staff killed in a plane explosion. It would feel redundant...)

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