FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011) Review


Directed by Steven Quale
Written by Eric Heisserer & Jeffrey Reddick
Starring Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, Arlen Escarpeta, Ellen Wroe, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, P.J. Byrne, Arlen Escarpeta, David Koechner & Tony Todd
Starts today in theaters!

Before I jump into this, I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of the FINAL DESTINATION franchise. I understand the appeal of the Rube Goldbergian scenarios. I loved seeing them in those TOM & JERRY cartoons as a kid. But after a discussion with @$$Hole co-editor Sleazy G after watching the film last night, I started understanding why the films are so popular. See, SAW and FINAL DESTINATION are the FRIDAY THE 13th’s and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET’s of this generation of young movie goers. I remember fanatically going having to see the latest F13 or NIGHTMARE every time they hit theaters, which back then was an annual thing just as FINAL DESTINATION and SAW have become. As much as I scoff as the popularity of those films, a part of me feels that by doing so I’m giving in to my inner old man and not understanding that, as vapid and one note as these movies are, there is an entertaining factor at play here.

With this understanding, I have to say I came out of FINAL DESTINATION 5 last night thoroughly entertained. Do we go to see rich character development played by Oscar worthy actors? Hellz no. We go because the kills are fun and cartoony. And you know what? The kills WERE fun and cartoony. Every kill was as complex as they come, but also had a factor of gallows black humor that made it a blast to experience, especially in 3-D, as chunks and body parts are tossed in your face at a rapid pace.

The plot of the story is paper thin and simply a different scenario in which a kid predicts the death by catastrophe (this time it’s a bridge collapse) then one by one, the survivors are killed off because as the series only returning character played by Tony Todd states, “Death cannot be cheated.” There’s also a subplot where the lead kid wants to be a gourmet chef and must decide whether to stay in the states with his girlfriend or go to France on an internship—blah, blah, blah. None of that shit matters though. FINAL DESTINATION 5 is just shit getting fucked up in graphic, complicated and anus puckering ways. Though he doesn’t get too deep or spend much time letting the audience get to know these characters, director Steven Quale takes full advantage of the 3rd Dimension and fills this movie with one wince inducing moment after another—be it a nail into a bare foot or a laser to an eyeball.

But who’s looking for character and subtext in a FINAL DESTINATION film? It’s a visual smorgasbord of easily digestible food. You can like your heady, Cronenbergian, foreign horror all you want. I love those films too. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for lowest common denominator, in your face schlock too. FINAL DESTINATION 5 slops around in the red stuff like a fat kid in a mud puddle. Even the opening credits, which is basically just five minutes of shit comin’ at you, most of the time on fire (I swear, there was a barbed wired log on fire slamming in your face for no reason whatsoever) goes for the cheap in your face thrill that was the reason 3D films were made in the first place. So even though it will never stack up to the thrill I had every Friday the 13th when a new Jason flick was released, I understand the appeal of films like FINAL DESTINATION 5 and recommend you go see it this weekend.

QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL (2011) Review


Directed by John Pogue
Written by John Pogue, John Eric Dowdle, Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza, Luiso Berdejo
Starring: George Back, Andrew Benator, Jason Benjamin, Bre Blair, Lynn Cole

I wasn’t one of those who hated QUARANTINE. Sure, Dexter’s twitchy sister wasn’t as plucky and likable as REC’s Manuela Velasco, but for the most part, I don’t know why there was such an uproar about the remake and such a dislike for it other than the remake was pretty damn pointless, serving only those who refuse to watch “films they gotta read”. Now, having seen REC and REC2, I definitely prefer those films to their American counterparts since the two original films fit together so seamlessly and the story of the first is expanded in such an ingenious way in the sequel. Arguably, REC2 is one of the few films which successfully improves upon the original (but that is a discussion for another day).

I wish that were the same for QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL.

QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL is just what you’d expect from a direct to VOD sequel of a remake. It’s got lesser known actors, the effects are less effective, and the plot is severely lacking in both originality and depth. Most of the charm of the first is either carbon copied or missed altogether. Whereas REC2 picked up immediately after REC ended, QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL is a completely different story. For the most part, QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL is QUARANTINE in an airport. Any story advancement that occurred between REC to REC2 doesn’t happen in this sequel. Instead of building upon the first, QUARANTINE 2 starts over again. In other words, it’s redundant.

Though the contrivance of the first person POV shot film is somewhat overused these days, it is an integral part of the REC series and was used in QUARANTINE as well. In the sequel, though, the first person POV is dropped and shot in a more conventional manner. Because of this, QUARANTINE 2 plays more like a sequel to 28 DAYS LATER than the original film. It’s just another infection film where a bunch of people are trapped in one location with blood spewing zombies are running about.

Lack of POV camera and redundancy aside, QUARANTINE 2 is not unwatchable. The film tries to play a game of “who’s got the plague” at the beginning as passengers enter the plane; some sniffling, some sneezing, some suffering from ailments like strokes and some are just drunk. Like SNAKES ON A PLANE, every plane passenger cliché is used, but this is a fun sequence. Though the secret twist is pretty evident from the beginning, the film gives it the old college try to keep us guessing who brought the plague on board, how they did it, and why. Though the acceptance of the existence of a plague and the logic that it is spread through bites and contact with fluids seems a bit rushed, once the infected start swarming, it gets kind of fun watching these annoying passengers getting picked off one by one. The effects are somewhat shoddy and a lot of the crisp, funhouse thrills and chills from RECs and QUARANTINE seem to move at a much more lumbering speed here. The final sequence is also somewhat effective as a pair of survivors try to make their way to freedom in a cramped tunnel with only night vision goggles to guide them. Only when the film falls back on its roots and shows us a first person POV in this scene do the scares feel a bit more genuine.

REC2 pretty much distanced itself from QUARANTINE by introducing religious elements that are never touched upon in the American version, so though I’ve compared the two film series throughout this review, one can look at these two series as completely separate entities. I didn’t expect another carbon copy Americanized version of REC2, but I was hoping for more than a rehash of QUARANTINE set in a different locale. Though vastly inferior to the REC series and the original QUARANTINE, QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL has a few frightful moments and reminded me just enough of REC to satiate my hunger until REC: APOCALIPSIS and REC: GENESIS are released later this year.