Saturday, March 3, 2012

FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011) - Review

Studios have a way of trying to suck the life out of any franchise that manages to be even marginally successful. The seven movies of the "Saw" series are one such case, increasingly dumb with each installment, that franchise went so far that even movie-goers were turned off and chose to avoid the last of the sequels. I'm sure that the days of "Saw" are far from over, but for the next few years we're safe. Until they can figure out how to reboot it, that is.

"Final Destination" is another interesting case. The first one broke the mold of slasher flicks by involving Death in a supernatural plot to kill off people who managed to survive an accident they weren't meant to survive. The invisible hand of Death works dark wonders and crafts elaborate freak accidents that settle its unfinished affairs with the few mortals who dared to defy it. It worked well in the first movie in 2000. It was fun in the second one, in 2003. It grew tiresome with the third one in 2006. Then, Death killed off the plot altogether in the fourth one, in 2009. By the time the fifth one was released in 2011, I was sure there wasn't anything interesting to be done with the franchise, apart from the increasingly pointless 3D gimmicks and humorously gory deaths. I wasn't wrong.

The fifth installment once again takes a cast of young characters, throws them in the middle of a horrible disaster (a bridge collapse), makes a few of them survive through a well-timed premonition dream and then lets the survivors fall victim to Death's complicated assassination attempts. The deaths are somewhat creative, although unnecessarily graphic and extremely far-fetched. For example, one of these brutal accidents happens during a gymnastics exercise and the end result is so over-the-top that it becomes hilarious, not terrifying. Another one, which takes place at a Chinese massage parlor is sort-of amusing, mixing in some efficient comic-relief, but, again, the end-result makes the movie feel like a parody of itself. It's unfortunate really because these two scenes, as well as a few others, seemed to be generating just the right amount of suspense required to become truly engrossing, but then they fall apart with dim-witted glee.

Some people seem to think that "Final Destination 5" is a revival of the franchise simply because it drops the idea of crafting an interesting story and characters, instead making the conscious choice of focusing only on the fierce intensity of the kills. This is not an improvement. The first movie had a lot going for it, despite being regarded as a gimmicky slasher flick. It built an interesting story with an atmosphere of palpable dread that tapped into our most basic emotions, immersing us in a story that explored the concepts of death and mortality, all of it mixed with a supernatural tinge that would make the "X-Files" proud. In a way, the original "Final Destination" was an existential slasher horror. And it was violent, but never had to apply the Splatter Movie school of thought to make its point. This is why FD5, with its forgettable characters and story, is nothing more than a bad sequel, a mediocre horror and a pointless movie.