Good grief! This horror franchise is eleven years old and still going strong. It’s based on the premise that someone has a powerful premonition of an imminent catastrophe (like a car or airplane crash) and is able to help others escape. Problem is: fate – a.k.a. Death – doesn’t like to be cheated and is relentlessly determined to claim its victims, hunting down the clueless survivors one-by-one.
Only there’s a macabre twist. Supposedly, the Grim Reaper (personified by Tony Todd) will spare those who are willing to kill someone else – until the rules change again.
The disaster this time involves the spectacular collapse of a huge suspension bridge which is foreseen by Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto), a sales rep for a paper manufacturing firm, who resourcefully saves seven young colleagues on a bus en route to a weekend corporate retreat, only to have them killed in even more dastardly ways, involving horrible ‘accidents,’ including a gymnastics balance beam and laser eye surgery.
Characters like Sam’s estranged girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell), corporate climber Peter (Miles Fisher), dodgy executive Dennis (David Koechner), and sexy Olivia (Jacqueline Macinnes Wood) are basically bland and uninteresting except, perhaps, sleazy, womanizing Isaac (P.J. Byrne) who, when he realizes many of his co-workers have been killed, steals whatever he can find in their desks, like spare change and a coupon for a free massage at a local Asian-run spa.
“Yum, yum, dim-sum,” he leers – before he, too, succumbs. Plus, now there’s a skeptical FBI agent (Courtney B. Vance) investigating the bridge collapse in a freak wind storm.
Screenwriter Eric Heisserer and first-time feature director Steven Quale pile on the profanity and dish out gruesome violence, spiced, this time, with fleeting moments of nasty, ironic humor. And they adroitly use the 3-D gimmick for visceral effect, making you jump in your seat and gasp aloud, while scaring the wits out of you with piercings, flames and shattering glass.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Final Destination 5” is a suspenseful 6, preying on contemporary angst and uncertainty.