This is the best Final Destination film yet: a gleeful cavalcade of pulped skulls, squished eyeballs and skewered limbs – all hurled at you in bumblowing 3-D.
Where most horror franchises by their fifth outing have either given up trying, or entered a death spiral of smart alec self-referentiality (hello, Scream movies), the FD films just keep getting funnier, more OTT, more grotesque (with the exception of 2, that one sucked).
Sure, it rattles through the horror cliches, but Final Destination 5 doesn’t slap itself on the back every time it does it. This film is here for your enjoyment, not its own. Hence we get all of the horror genre’s best bits, such as the preamble where you get to meet all the characters and decide which one of these bozos you most want to die.
In this case the answer is ‘all of them’, since they’re a brigade of charmless corporate trainees, including a jut-jawed Patrick Bateman, a David Miliband lookalike, and various waftily attractive women.
Oh, and Champ Kind from Anchorman, which is confusing because you keep expecting him to do that weird thing with his mouth and shout “Whammy!” – at least you do until he gets a spanner embedded in his frontal lobe.
These people are so bland, not only do you not care what happens to them, within ten minutes you’re actively delighted for them to die. You just can’t bloody wait to see them splattered across the pavement in a variety of creative ways.
The only character you don’t hate is the demonic coroner, played by Tony Todd, who’s oddly camp for a Grim Reaper figure, resembling a sort of evil gay Bill Cosby. With his husky voice and burrowing eyes, he utterly owns the screen, essentially because he’s the only one who can even vaguely act.
What’s so enjoyable about the Final Destination films – the reason why they’re horror in its purest form – is that they foreground and amplify the central aspect of the genre, one that’s also familiar from the first five minutes of any episode of Casualty: you know that this doofus is going to die horribly. But how? And how long can the tension last?
The deaths in this instalment are fiendishly gross, genuinely difficult to watch. But it’s how the filmmakers get from a) to b) that makes them enjoyable as well as shocking. The sequence of events that joins ‘fat bloke having a massage’ to ‘fat bloke’s head being crushed’ is smart, unexpected, and possessed of a kind of cackling Machiavellian joy.
Oh, and the opening disaster sequence, featuring a collapsing bridge, is a genuinely jaw-dropping piece of cinema. There’s also a neat tie-up with the first film in the series, as well as a ‘greatest hits’-style replay of previous deaths. Although again, it doesn’t feel self-congratulatory, it’s just engineered to give the audience the maximum possible enjoyment.
If you like watching blandly attractive people getting burned, maimed, twisted into anatomically unlikely heaps of quivering flesh, well, then you’re a horror fan, and there’s pretty much no way you won’t enjoy Final Destination 5. I give it five headsplats out of five.