(On Cable TV, January 2013) I’m of two minds about the Final Destination horror film series: While the first one created a nice sense of dread that carried through after the credits rolled, much of the subsequent series has been pure carnography, with ingenious Rube-Goldbergian death sequences leading to excessive gore. Final Destination 5 is neither better nor worse than the series has been on average: The opening disaster sequence is impressively staged, with Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge earning a starring role in the process. When it comes to the usual death sequences, they blend amusing fake-outs with preposterous assumptions about the fragility of a human body: In this film, the slightest blunt trauma apparently causes bodies to explode and rain internal organs. It’s this cheap Grand-Guignol approach to its deaths scenes that drag down the series’ more interesting themes. At least Final Destination 5 is slightly better than its immediate predecessors in expanding the mythology: it suggest another way out of the death cycle but, true to the series’ increasingly tedious nihilism, immediately snatches it away in a muddle of dark irony and plot holes. The finale brings back the film to the first installment but the stunt feels more perfunctory than interesting –it would have worked best as a trilogy-finale, but it’s not as if there won’t be another Final Destination 6 in a few years, after all. As for the film itself, there’s some crisp and efficient work here by director Steven Quale (shot in 3D, the film still works just fine in 2D TV-land), and some of the actors are charismatic enough to make us sympathise with them a little bit. (“Aw, c’mon, couldn’t we wait a bit before killing Olivia?”) While still a notch better than usual horror film (and quite a bit better than the usual fifth installment of ongoing horror franchises), this Final Destination 5 is also sadly notable for the opportunities it doesn’t take. It’s good at what it tries to do, but for once I’d like a less gory and more thoughtful take on the same material.