What has become a cinematic meat grinder of a franchise churns on with "Final Destination 5" (Warner Bros.). Appealing exploitatively to the worst in human nature—a morbid desire to watch special-effects-fodder characters killed off in various nauseating ways—director Steven Quale's gorefest is mind-numbingly boring when not repulsive.
The current retread of the all-too-familiar formula behind these flicks sees a group of paper factory executives—played by Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe, P.J. Byrne, Arlen Escarpeta and David Koechner—managing to evade death thanks to the timely premonition of a colleague named Sam (Nicholas D'Agosto). Sam mystically foresees the collapse of the bridge the co-workers are crossing on their way to a corporate retreat.
But the Grim Reaper, who clearly doesn't appreciate being hustled, begins evening his accounts by subjecting each survivor in succession to a bizarre and grisly end. These range from an acupuncture session and a laser eye surgery appointment that both go horribly wrong to a gymnastics incident that even the notorious East German Olympic judges of old would have been justified in scoring low.
Stitching these scenes of mayhem together, barely, is something like a plotline about Sam leaving the paper industry behind to pursue his real interest—haute cuisine—by becoming an intern chef at a Paris restaurant.
But what will this mean for his relationship with girlfriend Molly (Bell)? Of course no one cares, and the cooking angle is just an excuse to tease viewers with the meat cleavers, flaming skillets and bubbling deep fryers of the eatery where Sam moonlights after office hours.
Those conversant with Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov's dictum that, if a revolver is seen in the first act of a play it must be fired in the second or third act, will be suitably alarmed to note that this array of kitchen equipment also includes a huge pointed skewer for roasting meat.
Coming at you, as they say, and in 3-D.
The film contains pervasive gruesome violence, a few rough and about a dozen crude terms and some sexual references. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
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