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John’s Horror Corner: Final Destination 5 (2011), the most fun and rewatchable of the franchise with outstanding death scenes!

October 24, 2019

MY CALL: Great likable characters and outstanding death scenes. This is easily the most fun and rewatchable of the entire franchise. MORE MOVIES LIKE Final Destination 5: Final Destination (2000), Final Destination 2 (2003) and Final Destination 3 (2006). But maybe skip The Final Destination (2009), easily the worst of the franchise.

Franchise SIDEBAR: Final Destination (2000) ended with three Flight 180 survivors having beaten Death’s design and enjoying a drink in Paris… that is, until they realized they made one mistake as the screen goes black! When Final Destination 2 (2003) opens, we learn that the survivors of Flight 180 all ultimately died mysterious deaths except for one, that all of the victims of FD2 were connected to the survivors of Flight 180, and that they had also evaded Death’s plan (during the events of FD1). FD2 ended with the revelation that Death’s cycle had not ended and that they were still on fate’s “to do” list, only to have Final Destination 3 (2006) completely ignore FD2 and instead serve as a second direct sequel to FD1. Unlike its predecessors, FD3 leaves no survivors on the ill-fated Train 180! The Final Destination (2009) acknowledges the previous plot without specifying any sequels and, like FD3, it kills everyone off again at the end.

Preparing to depart on a company retreat, co-workers Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto; Gotham), Molly (Emma Bell; Hatchet II, The Walking Dead), Peter (Miles Fisher; Wolves at the Door), Candice (Ellen Wroe; Animal Kingdom), Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood; The Bold and the Beautiful), Isaac (P.J. Byrne; Big Little Lies, Rampage), Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta; Friday the 13th) and Dennis (David Koechner; Krampus, Cheap Thrills, Piranha 3DD) find their bus stuck on the wroooooong suspension bridge.

The opening death scene sequence (i.e., the premonition) was a blast! All pertinent deaths occur on-screen and there is thoughtful nuance to their execution. For example, when the molten asphalt-burned skin of a victim’s fingers sloughs off as he loses his grip and falls; when another falling victim careens off the concrete support of the bridge with an angled blood splatter before ricocheting into the water; or the loosened eye socket from the rebar impalement through the head. The CGI may be a tad dated, but the execution was excellent!

We follow a lot of familiar FD beats—the premonition and how it plays out, suspicion and investigation by law enforcement targeting the premonitionist, the memorial for all lost in the given tragedy… But these beats play out as much as FD homage as they do FD tropes. And agent Block (Courtney B. Vance; The Mummy) is every bit as engaging as were agents Shrek and Weine (FD1).

Only minutes into this movie and I like the characters more than any other FD sequel. PJ Byrne steals the show with comic relief as a quirky unexpected ladies’ man who’s so slimy he’ll steal the spare change from a dead colleague’s desk. Right behind Byrne is David Koechner, who delivers a delightfully despicable company man alpha boss with sharp lines. But the real pleasure is in the death scenes.

The gymnastics death scene (Ellen Wroe) was FANTASTIC! The tack, the water, the damaged electrical cord, the somersaulting gymnast… I was transfixed on everything happening on screen to such degree I was reminded of the surge of excitement I felt watching the death sequences in FD 1-2 all over again. And when Candice finally comes to the end of the scene—WOW! The exposed broken femur and broken back were enough, but that twitch! I love the finger twitch! Best death scene of the franchise? You tell me.

On to the spa death scene where actor PJ Byrne oozes charismatic yet toxic misogyny seasoned with a dash of ignorant racism (that’s delivered with ironic levity). Short of spoiling anything (I’ll let the GIFs do that), Byrne’s banter is far more entertaining than the death scene itself—but this is a credit to Byrne, not discredit to his death. I winced so hard when he fell with all those acupuncture needles in him—bent about or deeply impaling him. And that head trauma was awesome.

The laser eye surgery death scene (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) is a fist clencher, for sure. From the moment Olivia is laying down on the operating table clenching the crap outta’ that Teddy bear, I knew I was in for a good ride. When that laser kicks on, I assure you, you’ll be nervous for poor Olivia.

Much less sinisterly presented than before, Bludworth (Tony Todd; Final Destination 1-3, WishmasterHatchet II) is back to explain some of the nuances of Death’s plan to our survivors. He says something interesting: that he’s seen this before. You’d think he meant FD 1-4, but really he means before that. But as we’ve seen before, Bludworth is also always good for adding a new rule to the game (e.g., how new life could reset death’s plan in FD2). Take a life, and you enjoy their years in life while they serve your years intended for death.

We close with perhaps the most satisfying ending of the entire franchise, followed by a memorial montage of franchise death scenes.  So how has director Steven Quale not risen to further greatness? I found this film outstanding. This is easily the most fun and rewatchable of the entire franchise.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2019 7:49 pm

    That gymnastics death………Oof.

  2. November 3, 2019 10:03 am

    That little oops on the uneven bars has to be one of the top 10 death scenes of all time.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      November 3, 2019 5:41 pm

      I think they did such an outstanding job with the visualization leading up to the “thud” as much as the bone-breaking “thud” itself. Just a great scene. Right up there with the teacher’s kitchen death in FD1 and the opening sequence of FD2.

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