Teenagers plus death equal formulaic horror thriller
How do you make a Final Destination film? Add in one premonition, a plethora of one note characters and a variety of new deaths to showcase and you have a cookie-cutter sequel to what was a fairly intriguing 2000 horror film in the original Final Destination. Final Destination is the fourth sequel and shows that some horror franchises can exist merely by repeating the original with a cast that isn’t going to break the budget.
Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) is on a bus with some co-workers (Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Arlen Escarpeta, David Koechner) for a corporate retreat when he has a vision. Seeing everyone die as the bridge collapses, he rushes to save the day and avoid the death his vision foretold. But death, and the one constant from Final Destination (Tony Todd), know better and Sam and his friends have to figure out death’s plans for them in order to foil them.
And if it sounds familiar it’s because it’s the exact same formula used four times already, including in what was supposed to be the franchise’s finale in the fourth film. There’s no variant in the film from the other four as it’s the same exact story, plot and nearly the same characters as before. They may have different characters and actors but they all have one basic purpose: cannon fodder. This is a variant on the “dead teenager” formula for slasher films but with an omnipotent killer behind it all as opposed to a singular person or monster to fight. It leaves little to the imagination in terms of plot or tone, as it copies the other four entirely, but the film isn’t about anything like that.
It’s about the kills.
They’re actually fairly imaginative and well done, definitely the film’s strongest point. While there’s no reason to want to see these characters live or die, or even care about anything involved in the film, their deaths at least make their cinematic existence something above pointless. The film delivers in that sole aspect and that’s the reason for the franchise’s continued existence: to see how creative a death they can create. In that aspect they succeed wildly; the setups are remarkably elaborate and a few deaths are rather shocking and unexpected. Great care was set up for the deaths and they contain everything the rest of the film lacks.
Final Destination 5 also has a unique twist to it that gives the first film a new qualifier to it as well. The film also painstakingly hides this for all but the astute viewer; when the film ends, with a retrospective back to the kills of the entire franchise, there’s a sense of finality to it. The franchise has come full circle in a way with this film in an odd way. The first film was unique in that it gave us a new vantage point on the horror film. Instead of outrunning a stuntman in a costume, they’re trying to cheat the Grim Reaper himself.
It gave an interesting take on the genre in a way that really hadn’t been told tried before. Bringing in concepts like fate and destiny, and the ability to try and change them up, gave it a unique story-telling perspective that hadn’t been tried before. The fifth film in the franchise is just a regurgitation of the first but without even that film’s shallow depth to it.
Director:Steven Quale Notable Cast: Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Arlen Escarpeta, David Koechner, Tony Todd Writer(s): Eric Heisserer
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.