The Final-er Destination

Wednesday August 17th 2011


The first Final Destination movie was released on May 19th 2000 in the UK and remains a bona fide masterpiece. Promising to make stars of lead teens Devon Sawa and Ali Larter (what happened there?), the film deployed its ingenious premise to great effect, deftly blending the supernatural and the mundane in its iconic death scenes without ever sacrificing the coherent, intriguing narrative at its centre. In the eleven years since, its sequels have focused less and less on characterisation and casting and more and more on set pieces, extreme gore and black humour. The series is still a fuckload of fun, but its now a distinctly disposable sort of fun. Some would say it always was, but those people are idiots. Don’t listen to them.


(Note how critical opinion of the series was actually lower in the early days, despite the most common complaint by reviewers today being that it’s ‘run out of ideas’.)

As you can see, Final Destination 5 — which is out next week — is a marked improvement upon 2009’s regrettably-titled The Final Destination, playing down the 3D gimmicks that plagued that movie and squeezing a few familiar faces into the cast list for once (Frozen‘s Emma Bell, Rocket Science‘s Nicholas D’Agosto and The Internet’s Miles Fisher). It’s also one of the most solidly enjoyable films in the series: even in a screening of 60-70 critics, the atmosphere of giddy dread whenever a death scene loomed was palpable.

But despite its many ‘aaaah’ and ‘ooooh’ moments, the film is all gross-out and no mind-fuck. With nearly every plot detail mapped out by previous entries in the series, there’s almost no room for surprise — even when the movie thinks it’s got an ace up its sleeve. Like death itself, we’re always one step ahead of the perennially clueless protagonists, and while that makes it all the more fun to see them routinely offed, it doesn’t make for a very satisfying piece of storytelling.

Yeah, that’s right, I’m picking Final Destination 5 up on its storytelling.