09 March 2012

+JMJ+

Twelve Things about Final Destination 5

12. "What's the only thing we can't recycle, Pete?" asks his impatient boss.

"Wasted time, sir," Pete replies, unaware that they are in a Horror franchise that is all about the recycling of time. (Nice touch, writers!)

11. Not all thoughts about Death are automatically morbid. Inasmuch as it is one of the Four Last Things, as long as we have the other three in the mix as well, we ought to be fine.

While it seems that the main problem with the Final Destination franchise is that it puts all the emphasis on Death and doesn't even hint that there are three other "destinations" even more final . . . that is also exactly what drives the Horror.

10. The first FD movie nearly gave Death some anthropomorphic form and personality--which would have been a huge mistake. Death as an impersonal, inexorable, yet paradoxically vengeful force? There's your ultimate killer!

But you'd have to get the atmosphere just right . . . which the first film did . . . and which this does not.

9. I knew it was all over when I saw this one was in 3D. (Heck, I knew it was all over when I saw the fourth movie was in 3D.) There's something about the gimmick that sacrifices all creepy, cathartic feelings to the false god of gratuitious gore. In 3D, people can't just die: they must die in gloriously gaudy ways.

Exacerbating the problem is the special convention of the FD franchise
that everyone dies twice. =P

8. I was so underwhelmed by the first deaths on the bridge. Not worth the hype by half. Yet how much of that is due to the soulless special effects and how much is due to the fact that I recognised none of the actors?


Seriously, was "soulless" the right word or what?
(I can practically see the green screens!)

When I say that the catastrophe scene of the first Final Destination is better because it packs so much drama into a single airplane cabin, how much of it is due to the old school filmmaking and how much to the familiar face of actor Devon Sawa, who had been making movies for the target demographic for years?

Embedding Disabled by Request
But it's totally worth a click and a watch!

7. The best death in this movie has got to be the one in the massage/acupuncture parlour.

Can't you just feel those needles?

Seriously, this is the scene everyone talks about afterwards. And I think it works for two reasons: first, it's "old school" enough to seem plausible; second, the relatively unknown actor playing this unlucky character has already managed to get an emotional and/or humourous rise out of the viewer in all his previous scenes. We may think he's a sleazebag . . . but by the time he gets it, he's our sleazebag.

By the way . . . the character's name is Isaac Palmer and the actor's name is P.J. Byrne. Respect where respect is due.

6. The worst death, on the other hand, is the one in the laser surgery room. I'm just really tired of the cliched "chord progression" from dripping water to malfunctioning electronics--especially when they are electronics we don't understand. Another character points out that in this case, six different systems had to malfunction at the same time. But what does the lay viewer know of those systems?

5. It was hard for me to feel a sense of connection to the characters, which was odd because they were kind of "my people." Neither the usual cast of high school or college students (or campers!), they were--with the exception of the intern--all professionals focussed on their careers.

Teenagers may be an enormous cliche of Slasher (and Slasher-type) Horror, but that's because they're also an archetype. Old enough to be real heroes but still too young to be taken seriously by the adults in power, they are suspended between two worlds when evil comes to get them. (As we all are, when evil comes to get us.)

There is a similar sense of suspension in FD5--and I don't mean the silly CGI bridge. After so many company employees die on the bridge, the survivors realise they may soon be between jobs. But even this isn't enough.

4. In Punk Catholic News, while the coroner William Bludworth has one of the best Priest Figure names I have ever heard in Horror (See what they did there? He knows what blood is worth.), he is also one of the worst Priest Figure characters.


"You all just be careful now."

That is, he's actually an anti-priest, working with Death rather than against it. Fans have suspected this since the second movie, but it wasn't until this installment that we had canonical proof, with his attempt to turn the survivors all into deputy anti-priests with the suggestion, "So you let death have somebody else in your place, and you take their spot in the realm of the living . . ."

3. It's that very idea of human sacrifice that gives Final Destination 5 a special Psychological Thriller edge. If you knew for certain that you would die within a few days unless you killed someone else and took his future years . . . would you do it?

My sixth-grade Religion teacher once told my class that we'd be blessed to know the exact hour of our death (or a fair estimate), because then we could prepare for it properly. Get that? Not because we'd get to postpone it to some future unknown date--which would defeat the point--but because we could prepare for it.

2. I used to think that the FD franchise's message that death is inevitable no matter what one does was fatalistic and defeatist. And then I remembered that it's plain common sense, too.

1. On a lighter note, anyone else raise his eyebrows when the federal agent suspicious of Sam's vision accuses him of being an "extremist" who had inside information on the bridge collapse? Especially since our current word for such people is "terrorist" . . .

I was floored when I got to the scene which reveals
why that odd choice of words
makes perfect sense.
Excellent twist!!!

Image Sources: a) Final Destination 5 poster, b) Final Destination 5 screen cap, c) William Bludworth

6 comments:

Kate@Midnight Book Girl said...

I am a fan of this franchise, although my favorite was FD 2, but this one and the 4th one felt more like they were almost direct to video ready. Of course, I'll continue to watch as long as they continue to churn out movies.

Jenny said...

I haven't seen this one. In fact, I haven't seen the last three but I'm always just amused at the ridiculously unbelievable ways they come up with to kill people. Imagine sitting in that brainstorming session. ;)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Kate -- My favourite is the first Final Destination--as I make kind of obvious here. LOL! "Direct-to-video ready" is a great description of FD 4. It definitely felt rushed; and I think that had it not been for the 3D gimmick, that it really might have gone straight to DVD.

Jenny -- I can think of a couple that were really dumb. LOL! Which one was your "favourite"?

Brandon said...

I was by a Redbox yesterday and so grabbed a copy just so I could comment on this post!

I remember seeing the previews for this one and thinking, "Wait, there was a 3 and a 4?" (Actually, as my sister reminded me later, I'd seen the third one, and just completely forgotten it.) I thought this was OK as a sequel, although you are quite right that it doesn't get the atmosphere quite right. If Death is out to get you, he doesn't need an elaborate set-up, and despite the fact that the first film stretched things a bit on some of the deaths, it did a fairly good job of playing on the uncomfortable fact that Death can be lurking in just about anything. I think one scene in this one where it came close to conveying this properly was when Sam went back to work and you get a little bit of a sense of just how many ways there are to die just between the door and his station in the kitchen.

You're also quite right that the twist is excellent -- if (as with the 'extremist' point) it had in subtle ways built up to it more (perhaps rather than focusing so much on the gore and utterly over-the-top Rube Goldberg deaths!) that twist could have almost made the movie on its own.

Jenny said...

Oh, I don't remember any that weren't pretty dumb but the tanning salon one just made me laugh.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Brandon -- Thanks for commenting (and for renting the movie)! =)

My favourite death from the first film (and possibly the entire series) is the one that ended up looking like a suicide. Death was diabolically clever in that one--as it was in the kill that ended up looking like a murder.

I think the series started careening downhill the moment the deaths became so freakishly implausible that investigators started commenting on the set ups. It makes sense that Bludworth the coroner/anti-priest would know about the pattern, but when laymen can remark on it as well, you know that Death has been mischaracterised. As you've said, it doesn't need an elaborate set up.

Jenny -- I barely even remember the tanning salon death! But I do know a couple of people who thought it was the best one in the movie. I should call them up and ask them why . . .