Friday, May 11, 2012

Final Destination 5 (2011)

Typically when a franchise reaches a certain point the movies become more and more painful to watch.  And especially after forcing my way through the second, third, and fourth installments of the Final Destination franchise, I approached this latest offering apathetically.  It was just a time-filler, a duty as a horror blogger.  I even made a French press of the darkest, strongest coffee available to me, so as to stay awake for the whole thing.  But, lo, in the wake of its infinitely lame predecessor (title The Final Destination, as if the definite article "the" would really lead us to believe they wouldn't try to squeeze more money out of the series), this was the best of the lot since the first film!

But it didn't seem to be headed in that direction for the first ten minutes or so.  What we open with is a tumultuous, seemingly never-ending montage that combines credits with references to deaths throughout the series thus far and to come.  It was sort of cool, but wore out quickly.  Then the actual movie opens and plays out like a glossy teenaged soap opera--highly polished set and lithe, nubile characters with thick makeup (and eyebrows); lingering dramatic stares; and maudlin, melodramatic dialogue.  A recycled introduction of stock, uninteresting characters--check.  Indeed the first fifteen minutes do not promise an good remainder.  Just accept the mandatory Hollywood gloss and move on--the fun is yet to come.

Then follows the trademark of the series: a character has a premonition of a disaster--which in  this movie delivers some amazing effects--and then jolts back to reality in time to save a handful of characters from the impending doom.  Thus, they cheat death, who pursues them for the rest of the movie.  As the horror icon Tony Todd warns them, death does not like to be cheated.  So now the setup is in place, and we've got a lot of movie to go.  I was already thankful to be spared the ridiculous theatrics of the race-track disaster from the previous installment.

The obligatory funeral scene is where the movie takes an interesting turn.  A turn for the best.  It adds in humor that works.  As in, it caught me off guard and I really laughed.  This thread of irony and playful humor would continue throughout the film and was more than welcome.  The humor around the IT Guy, whom the manager thought was dead (a reference during the eulogy and later in the film are perfectly timed), and small ironic comments here and there, combined with the creative, inventive kills--the trademark of FD--work to keep the film entertaining and fresh.

In the final scene (or what I thought was the final scene), I braced myself for the big flop.  I fully expected the film to have lost steam after it's crowd-pleasing middle parts, and fall flat on its face.  And, yes, what was actually the penultimate scene is predictable and unoriginal.  The actual final scene completely won me over and secured my loyalty to the franchise (or, at least, the first and fifth films).  The ending isn't a great epiphany or mind-bender, by any means; it's just pleasantly creative.  And immediately following is another montage of actual footage of the various kills throughout the series (not just references to the instruments of death as in the opening montage).  It's killing me to not talk about the ending, so I'll just throw out an obscure literary reference: "riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs."


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  2. Oh, sweet! I really appreciate the information, BSH. Any chance you'd like to offer some comments regarding Final Destination 5?