Death is not evil, just damn inventive in the “Final Destination” franchise. Thanks to one character’s premonition (a vivid pre-viz as realistic as a disaster-action film scene), a handful of Americans escape death in a big accident. After attending a memorial service for the dead, these survivors find their luck is short-lived. One by one, they die in outlandish accidents staged, it seems, by a cosmic accountant correcting the death toll through a perversely engineered chain of unlikely events leading to a grisly fatality. There’s usually a frizzle of static on the radio or video screen, or a flicker of the lights to signal the debacle to come. But if this is God’s handiwork, He only supplies a nudge. Typically, a slight breeze sets the mechanics in action. (Sort of like the scripture from the gospel of John quoted as an alternate title of Robert Bresson’s “A Man Escaped”: “The wind bloweth where it will.”) Supernatural theology is negligible in the gleefully nihilist “Final Destination 5,” directed by first-timer Steven Quale and written by Eric Heisserer. True to form, there’s no sentimental crap about angels fetching mortals who, by some fluke of fate, overstayed their time on earth. In the first film, high schoolers on a field trip board a flight to Paris that goes bad. This time Presage Paper employees board a bus for a team-building retreat that stops on a bridge and many things go very wrong. No more need be said about the plot. But rewind to the opening credit sequence that makes this the best use of 3D in the last two years. One lethal item after another flies right at you. Was that a salami that just impaled me? Three is the deadly dimension. This gimmick is made for gore and victim POVs. With Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Courtney B. Vance, Arlen Escarpeta, P.J. Byrne, Ellen Wroe, Jacqueline MacInnes-Wood, David Koechner, Tony Todd. (Bill Stamets)
“Final Destination 5” opens Friday.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.