|Image: Warner Bros.|
It’s somehow easy to forget that Final Destination became a franchise. They are, with the possible exception of the fourth instalment which we’ve not seen, all entertaining enough but none of them are especially memorable. The poorly-received fourth film was called The Final Destination. Clearly that was untrue.
While on his way to a corporate retreat, Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) has a vision of his and his friends’ gruesome deaths when the bridge their bus is on collapses. He manages to get them off the bus before the terrible accident occurs, but Death does not like to be cheated. Before long, the survivors start dying in elaborate accidents.
The filmmakers (director Steven Quale and writer Eric Heisserer, both new to the franchise) know what their audience expects, and they’re quite happy to stick to the formula. There’s got to be the elaborate opening disaster that’s spectacular enough to keep the audience in their seats. That’s mission accomplished for Quale, with the bridge collapse providing an early gory highlight. Then it’s a matter of killing off their characters in creative ways, with a gymnastics accident and a trip to the laser eye surgery the two stand-outs.
Clearly, the core audience knows this is coming, so whether or not a Final Destination film succeeds depends on how much they can wrong-foot you. There’s some success, ranging from some disappointing “saw-that-coming” to actually genuinely impressive shocks. Of course, it’s a film that wants to be a fairground attraction, so don’t expect much in the way of narrative tension or character development. It’s also a film that’s fully embraced 3D so expect plenty of CGI blood and guts jumping out of the screen.
The characters are reasonably likeable cut-outs, helped by a decent lead performance from D’Agosto (Rocket Science, Heroes), while Emma Bell (Frozen) fares less well as his under-written girlfriend. Happily, there’s solid comedic support from David Koechner (Anchorman) as his obnoxious boss. And yes, franchise veteran Tony Todd (Candyman) shows up to clue any Final Destination freshers into what’s going on.
It’s all very standard FD stuff, but there’s enough here that will guarantee an entertaining ninety minutes for franchise fans and gore hounds, and it should give casual viewers a couple of shocks too.
Verdict: Gleefully does what it sets out to do. Disengage your brain and enjoy the set pieces.