It's been 11 years and we've yet to reach the final Final Destination, that poetic horror film cycle about the grodiest ways that household objects can stab, jab, prick, slice, cut, chop, cleave, crush, crunch, behead and puree hot boys and hotter girls.
What's good is that the fifth pic, the aptly titled 3-D entry, Final Destination 5, carries on the august FD tradition inaugurated in 2000 by writer-director James Wong and also manages to crank up the blood, gore, grizzle and grue to 2011 and beyond. I'd venture to say it's the best Final Destination sequel - if you gauge success by overall shock value.
What's bad is that it carries on the august tradition . . .
Final Destination 5 opens on a high: The opening credit sequence is a heady 3-D phantasmagoria, a swirly, trippy sequence of glass shards, knives, poles, iron rods, and various other implements of death flying at the audience. (They even threw a flying salami in there. Now, that would be a spicy death.)
It's the best part of the film.
Then, we get the familiar opening scene: Our hapless hero, a likable, cute (if a tad too vanilla) sincere-head everyman named Sam (Nicholas D'Agosto) has a vision of impending doom as he's traveling to a corporate retreat with a busload of coworkers. (In The Office style, they're all Dilbertian drones at a paper plant bossed over by a bald, insecure mama's boy turned dictator.)
Sam sees the bridge collapse, sending screaming men, women and children to the deep, watery yonder below. (Well, those who haven't been chopped into two by snapping cables.) A dozen human beings' worth of limbs, bloodied limbless torsos, and severed heads fly right at us. (Goody!)
Before his vision becomes reality, Sam saves seven souls.
The rest is a by-the-numbers iteration of the standard plot line: Sam and his fellow survivors, including his girlfriend Molly (the lovely Emma Bell, whose talents are wasted here) have cheated death! So the Grim Reaper comes for them one by one.
Director Steven Quale is economical: He ditches plot altogether, delivering instead nothing but set pieces. He does come up with a few genuinely creepy moments of Hitchcockian edge-of-your-seat suspense and a few very inventive deaths. And the film ends with a sweet, wicked series of plot twists. For what it's worth, Final Destination 5 will please the series' fans in a big way.
Contact Inquirer staff writer Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-817-2164 or firstname.lastname@example.org.