Not Screened at Press Time Theater: Final Destination 5



Ah, the Final Destination films — the most completely egalitarian genre films in existence. The antithesis of the Saw franchise, which involves punishing and killing others as a means of moral judgment, the Final Destination pictures instead posit that death is universal, and no amount of wheeling or dealing or tearful scenes are going to help.

They aren't challenging films (unless you're particularly squeamish), but they work as a useful koan — a means to come to terms with the entropic nature of the universe. The inciting event this time is the collapse of a suspension bridge, and the means by which death comes to claim the cast include a gymnastics venue, an industrial plant, an acupuncturist's office, a haute cuisine restaurant, and a LASIK bay. Can you say splatterific?

The script, by Eric Heisserer (who also wrote the upcoming prequel to The Thing and last year's abysmal remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street), delivers all the carnage one could want, spinning random items into implements of death like a malevolent MacGyver. There are even a couple of wrinkles in the mix, one of which had me concerned that the filmmakers were trying to go against the brilliant central thesis of these films — namely, that death is inescapable. But I shouldn't have worried. If anything, I wish Lucio Fulci, grindhouse master of eyeball violence, could have lived to see LASIK technology. That, and I wonder how Buddhists will react to one of the film's visual jokes — perhaps it was meant as a statement about enlightenment and reincarnation?

This is easily the best-looking 3D of the year. Granted, director Steven Quale did second-unit work on Avatar and brought in James Cameron's Fusion system, so it's starting with the right equipment. But this film genuinely has its visual sensibility down. What horror films are supposed to do, this one does. With relish and sick joy ...

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