“Final Destination 5” mediocre, yet a step up for the franchise.

One of "Final Destination 5"s victims faces her fate on a collapsing bridge.

I gave up a while ago on trying to assess the moral implications of the continued success of ultra-bloody horror films, and what exactly their continued success says about us, their audience.

I mean, pause for a minute. Consider that, when buying tickets to, say, a “Saw” film, or what I’m reviewing, the fifth “Final Destination” installment, you are plopping down $10 to laugh at the demise of average, ordinary people, not unlike yourself. Doesn’t that send a chill down your spine just a bit? (I, of course, ignore that these supposed “ordinary” people are unconvincingly portrayed by mostly terrible young actors.)

But I am not here as moral crusader, I am here as film critic. And I’m here to tell you what I’m sure comes as a surprise to none — “Final Destination 5” is pretty damn awful. Mind you, it is the successor to a film among the least watchable of the last 10 years — 2009’s “The Final Destination”. Isn’t it funny how that works? Warner Bros. aren’t even trying to hide that they’re dipping their hand into your pocket. It’s the rough equivalent of a spouse proclaiming they’re forever done, packing their bags and leaving, then showing up in the kitchen the following night, demanding their steak.

Of course, this isn’t new to horror cinema — many franchises have proclaimed their end only to come around a few years later.

Just as people flock to “Saw” films for the elaborate traps and romantic comedies for the happy ending and attractive actors, people come to “Final Destination” films to see the ways in which average household objects can conspire to kill people that have supposedly “escaped” Death’s clutches in the past.

You see, every film in this franchise begins with the protagonist having a premonition of an upcoming disaster, telling his friends to leave with him, and saving them all from the disaster, which, incidentally comes true. But Death intended to take these people, and over the course of the movies, Death certainly does, in ways that, hypothetically, should have gotten progressively gorier as the franchise ticked on. (a common complaint with “The Final Destination” were the unimaginative fatalities)

“Final Destination 5” finds a guy saving his company from a sudden bridge collapse, the aftermath being that Death claims them one-by-one in, admittedly, very cleverly realized sequences. The young cast as a whole didn’t leave much of an impression on me. One particular actor (whose name I lack the effort to Google) seems to be attempting to channel “Top Gun”-era Tom Cruise, an effort that fails spectacularly.

Some of the film’s deaths involve laser-eye-surgery, an acupuncture-therapy session, a wrench to the face and (my personal favorite) a sabotaged gymnastic stunt. And the bridge collapse sequence in the beginning is surprisingly convincing.

The franchise’s skill has always been in the prolonged build-up and unexpected-payoff of the various death sequences, which is no different here. I concede that these are very well-done scenes. That said, had Steven Quale (who in the past has worked on films like “Avatar” and “Titanic”) given even a fifth of the attention paid to the gore over to the characters, there would be something to invest in.

Unfortunately, there isn’t, giving “Final Destination 5” a very observational feel. We’re watching these people die horrifically, but don’t particularly mind one way or the other. C-

(Note: The 3-D here is actually worth it, if the impalement of attractive young women popping off the screen is your sort of thing.)


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