Could ‘Final Destination 5’ please be the final one?

by Gary Clift, arts critic

By A Contributor

The Coroner has to explain the premise of the Final Destination movies to the kids in the cast of “Final Destination 5.” Apparently they didn’t see the earlier pictures.

Here’s the scheme for this fairly amusing series of movies about odd, dramatic, gory deaths. Some young people will be getting on a plane (“1”) or onto a roller coaster (“3”) and one of them will have a sudden vision of the immediate future. He will see how seven or so kids will die due to some equipment failure and an odd set of coincidences.

The Seer hustles his pals off the rolling stock. Then a logging truck (“2”) or a race car (4, which was titled “The Final Destination”) wrecks, just as it did in the brief flash forward. But the kids aren’t killed because the momentarily psychic one has warned them all away. They’re saved!

But only momentarily. As the Presbyterian Coroner explains, everything is pre-destined. When the kids cheat death, death comes for them again almost immediately. So in these movies the characters are picked off one at a time by combinations of circumstances that would appeal to Rube Goldberg. Sometimes, though, the movie only takes us on a tour of potential dangers and then leaves them all alone. We see the real danger but don’t recognize it as the most likely killer.

So we are taken on a tour of dangers in the gymnasium as young Candice, college intern who just escaped a suspension bridge’s collapse, gets ready to practice her balance beam and parallel bar routines.

There’s an overhead fan coming apart. The air conditioning condensation is dripping onto an electrical cord right where the insulation has been rubbed away. A bolt is about to work its way out of the support for the bar. A small screw has fallen point up onto the beam. But only one of these details figures in Candice’s really horrific and utterly unbelievable fall.

And so it is with most of the death scenes. The kitchen. The industrial plant. And so on. Those dying were all working for the company which owns the plant and were on a bus (on the bridge) on their way to a “team building” retreat.

The comic (P.J. Byrne) dies the funniest death (while experiencing an acupuncture treatment). The fish-net hose girl dies the most revolting way (while having laser surgery on her eyes). Actually most of the central characters die twice, because we see how they would have died in bridge disaster which Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto—a sort of junior Bob Saget) foresaw.

So we originally saw Candice, girlfriend to Peter (Miles Fisher—a sort of junior Tom Cruz) impaled on a sailing ship’s mast. The series has started to scrimp on actors and on costumes—the male characters wear full Windsor knotted ties with spread collared shirts.

At one point the Coroner suggests that someone who has cheated death may be able to assume the remaining life of someone they themselves kill. This makes for some interesting business late, in a restaurant after hours.

Generally speaking, “Final Destination 5” isn’t a horror movie or even a scary movie. But it can be shocking. And while the passages in between the complicated death scenes aren’t at all interesting, the imagination and timing used in setting up and delivering the kill shots are admirable and effective.

But because the kids they have acting in this fifth movie are so unimpressive, one wishes this was the last of the Final Destination pictures. The premise wasn’t bad. But the moviemakers have returned to the buffet too many times. Surely the characters in this film are the only ones who need someone to tell them what the series’s premise is. Everybody else who likes shocking movies already knows, and knows, and knows…

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