August 13, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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FINAL DESTINATION 5Watch It At Home:  Death Takes No Holiday


There’s only one thing worth mentioning in FINAL DESTINATION 5… and it’s the one thing I can’t talk about.  Let’s just say that if you’ve been a follower of the series all along, the filmmakers (whether it was screenwriter Eric Heisserer or the producers) have come up with an ending so ingeniously satisfying that all things considered, it should mark the end of the franchise–but that would happen only if the movie flops.

Apart from that, Final 5 is more of the same.  You know the drill:  a group of deeply uninteresting characters is on its way to a grisly shared death, when one has a premonition and saves them all at the last moment.  Death, feeling cheated, then eliminates them one by one, mostly by means of lengthy, complicated “accidents” involving ordinary objects, but with a few sudden attacks just to keep the audience on its toes.  In the end, anyone who thought they were safe turns out not to be.

Final 5, like its immediate predecessor, is in 3D, which means more impalings, spurting blood and flying body parts than usual.  The director, Steven Quale, has worked as a crew member and Assistant Director for years with James Cameron, and while he has no particular sense of visual style or skill with actors, he knows how to make things leap at the camera, and keep things moving (the movie is technically 95 minutes, but that includes extended opening and closing credits sequences).


For those who care about the specifics of the plot, this time the disaster escaped by our leads is a fairly spectacular (if somewhat tacky-looking) bridge collapse, and rather than high school or college students, the survivors are co-workers at an anonymous company.  There’s a cute intern who does gymnastics (watch out!), a womanizer who decides to try acupuncture (bad idea!), a cool chick considering Lasik for her bad vision (keep the glasses!), and our hero is an aspiring chef, who doesn’t seem to realize that all those blades and cooking oil in a restaurant kitchen can be bad for one’s health.  The token authority figures are Courtney B. Vance as a cop–he must have had a mortgage payment due–and Tony Todd in his recurring role as a sinister coroner.  None of the performers have the opportunity to do much acting (their names this time are Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, David Koechner, Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe, PJ Byrne, Arlen Escarpeta and Jacqueline MacInnes Wood)–like porn stars, they’re basically meat, each one on screen to play his or her part in a particular set-piece.

Final Destination has always been a fairly curious franchise, basically a blackly comic collection of slaughters presented for our amusement–without even a villain who can himself be harmed.  There’s never been anything particularly scary or suspenseful about the movies, and even the deaths are so cartoonish that they aren’t shocking on any realistic level.   This fifth installment isn’t any different–except for that ending.  Have to give them credit for coming up with that.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."