The Final Destination movies have always begun with their own trailer-within-a-feature: One character imagines some disgusting orgy of jokey violence that kills off every single character in the film. Then the rest of the feature is a medieval rack that stretches this gruesome fun out to a little more than an hour by killing each human with strong-sucking pool drains, plummeting rocks and eager nail guns, plus an improbable number of fuel leaks and a whole lot of things that go boom: cars, planes, trains, and barbecue grills, to name a few. So if Final Destination 5 gives you the feeling that you’ve “seen this all before,” as one character laments, well, that’s the point: The characters had a premonition and got offed; you saw a trailer and bought a ticket. You knew what you were getting into. Final Destination 5 may not be any better or worse than the first four films, but it does deliver more of the same merry mayhem.
If you’ve seen any of the other Final Destination films, you know that the acting and plot are generally beside the point: Characters’ finest moments usually come in the split second during which actors’ real heads are replaced by fake heads, and are filled with ooze and wired to explode, or filled with ooze and skewered by something sharp, or filled with ooze and splattered like Gallagher’s watermelons. The questions that truly matter are: Does the gleeful sadism get old? (Surprisingly, no.) Are the death scenarios inventive enough? (Just enough.) And does the 3-D make it all more fun? (Not particularly.)
Even after five films, there’s something dumb-brilliant about the way these films take everyday routines and objects and turn them into absurd deathtraps. For generations raised on fear-mongering evening news reports about how absolutely everything — from Halloween candy to faulty high chairs and indoor air quality — can kill a person in an instant, the films are a satisfying, wallowing satire of our fleeting paranoias. Each new Final Destination movie has added a few more icky, anxiety-producing stressors. Past films have had fun with the blazing tanning beds and gym equipment; the new one plays nastily with our fears of laser-eye surgery and spa-afternoon acupuncture. (The Lasik debacle is particularly gross.) The head-skewering impalements play shamelessly into unnecessary 3-D, but, whoa, the death-by-sailboat-mast is hysterically nasty, and I will never order a rotisserie chicken again. If all that blood still doesn’t satisfy you, well there’s always the final credits: They’re essentially a huge fanboy supercut of past death scenes (nearly identical to this) amped up with a gobbets and bits of 3-D gore. Enjoy.