Movie Review: “Final Destination 5”

Written by Josh Litman August 19, 2011

Michael McNeely is profoundly deaf and hears with the assistance of a cochlear implant, making him a cyborg who can get mighty impatient when dialogue-heavy movies lack subtitles. When not hitting up the cinema or his local video store, he is investigating (privately) how human beings interact with each other – and thinking about lesson planning. Yes, that’s Mr. McNeely to you!

I would argue that the success of a horror film can be measured not only by the scares and jumps you experience during its runtime, but also by thoughts that you may have for long afterwards. To this end, I credit the first Final Destination with affecting some of my life philosophy. During my fourth year, I lost four people important to me – and rather unexpectedly – and it is often the case that we do not know when those close to us will experience their ‘Final Destination.’ Despite some problems with its execution, I admire Final Destination 5 for touching that nerve in all of us, and also delivering an entertaining package of thrills and chills.

If you haven’t seen the short-lived television show (and maybe its inspired movie) Dead Like Me, you’re in for a real treat. The Final Destination films operate in a similar fashion – you, like the main characters of Dead Like Me, are trying to guess who Death will take next, and how.

In Final Destination 5, I would argue that the gymnastics competition scene is a masterful exercise in suspense building. Is the talented gymnast going to injure herself with the fallen bolt from a fan (hinted from the trailer), or will it be the bar from which she is swinging that appears to be weakening by the minute? Could she possibly survive all this (and face yet another deathly set-up)? A lot of the gruesome deaths of FD5 are caused by other people; this, in part, leads to the climax of the film, where the protagonists learn that death can be averted if you cause it – “you kill someone, you get their life.” (Isn’t that the rationale of at least one serial killer?)

I was also impressed by the bridge sequence at the beginning of the film – also hinted at by the ever-so-helpful trailer – which must have taken some real ingenuity to engineer; unfortunately, such inventiveness died down as the film progressed (though it’s an interesting concept that the deaths from the bridge sequence are reflected later on in the film).

A downside to the film was that some of the deaths looked goofy – although I willingly admit that one was intentionally goofy, and the guy kinda deserved it – however, others were just out of this scheme of reality, and I wonder if something stronger about our fears of death could be made if the goofy deaths were thrown aside. While the film did have some strong stuff, perhaps it would be best at times to leave certain aspects to our often grisly imagination.

I enjoyed the pseudo-references to The Office, since hey, Todd Packer’s here! And there’s also a division between the warehouse and the offices of a PAPER COMPANY. But yeah, the warehouse is deadly… I also appreciate the fact that somehow the film knew I had a fear of one day going crazy and pushing someone into traffic – thanks a lot. Finally, there’s a pretty interesting twist at the end that kinda gets you thinking…

Cheers!

My Rating: 6/10

Recommended:

–          Final Destination 1 (cannot vouch for 2-4, shh)

–          Dead Like Me (TV series)

–          Audition (“deeper, deeper” never sounded more ominous)

–          Hereafter (what I’d say death scenes should be like, I think)

Also, check out this music video featuring the cast of Final Destination 5! See if you can spot any hints/clues related to events that occur in the film…

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About Josh Litman

Josh Litman

Director/producer/writer/actor/editor/cinematographer/musician/neuroscientist… Josh prides himself on being simultaneously awesome and modest. In addition to We Eat Films, Josh also produces his own work (films, writing) under the banner of Action Potential Productions and has his own website, too, where his handiwork can be viewed: www.actionpp.com -- or www.joshlitman.com (if you prefer).

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