No matter where you run, no matter where you hide…you can’t cheat death.
Or can you?
In New Line Cinema’s “Final Destination 5,” the fifth installment of the successful horror franchise, Death once again proves to be the ultimate stalker as it systematically hunts down a group of friends struggling to escape its relentless pursuit.
This time around, Death is unleashed on several coworkers as they embark on a corporate retreat for what should be a quick overnight trip. As the charter bus makes its way toward the location, the route takes them over a massive suspension bridge that arches over a river, where raging waters surge 200 feet below. But their fates are seemingly sealed as the bridge splinters apart right in front of their eyes. Sam, the character who had first presaged the accident, desperately tries to figure out a way to save them, with some degree of success…or so he thinks.
The second of the “Final Destination” films to be shot in 3D, “Final Destination 5” is directed by Steven Quale, marking his feature film directorial debut. The film brings together an ensemble cast, including Nicholas D’Agosto (TV’s “Heroes”), Emma Bell (TV’s “The Walking Dead”), Miles Fisher (TV’s “Gossip Girl”), Courtney B. Vance (TV’s “Flash Forward”) and Arlen Escarpeta (“Friday the 13th”), with David Koechner (TV’s “The Office”) and “Final Destination” franchise icon Tony Todd.
Director Steven Quale says, “In the previous ‘Final Destination’ films, it’s inevitable that they’re going to die, and the question is when and how—that’s the adrenaline rush. But in this movie, we’ve added a twist: a few may have found a way to survive.”
For producer Craig Perry, the opportunity to come back for a fifth time offered a chance to not only meet the fans’ expectations, but to rock them out of their seats. “We’re always looking at these films with an eye to taking it to the next level,” Perry says. “One of the things we’ve learned from fans is that they want a gripping, terrifying story that is also an entertaining ride, so we really tried to ramp it up.”
Quale felt that working on a film where the core premise was firmly established provided him with a creative challenge to enhance the bones of the franchise. “I did a marathon screening of all four ‘Final Destination’ movies back-to-back with the mind of a moviegoer, noting what I liked best about each. Then I began to think about what I was going to do once I was behind the camera.”
Screenwriter Eric Heisserer says working on “Final Destination 5” was a writer’s dream job, since setting up the hook of the story isn’t needed. “The ‘Final Destination’ conceit is one of those rare situations where, thanks to the previous four movies, I didn’t need to spend a lot of time on exposition to make sure the audience would get it. It was my intent from the start to write an engaging supernatural thriller that also happens to be a ‘Final Destination’ movie. Like fans, I wanted some heinous kill sequences, but I also wanted to expand the mythology of the world by introducing a moral dilemma for the characters, which forces them to wrestle with the question of what, or who, they value most.”
With the series’ signature chain reaction-style kills always at the center of anticipation for audiences, the scenes have to be bigger and better each time, presenting a fun challenge for the writer.
“The toughest thing for me was definitely choreographing the death sequences. I made several trips to various real-world locations where our scenarios are set. I took pictures, drew diagrams, conducted interviews. Often it felt like I was at the scene of some crime, even though none had been committed…yet,” he laughs. “The chain of small, mundane events that, when triggered in proper order, spell disaster for a character, took a lot of careful planning. The flip side of that coin is that, when a death sequence worked, it was easily the most fun to write.”
In addition to the death scenes, the producers and Quale were adamant that the story and character development take equal precedence, recognizing the value that comes from engaging the audience to care about the characters, which then makes watching their demise that much more of a visceral, horrifying event.
“We set out to make a visually stunning film with dynamic action sequences, beginning with the bridge,” Quale states, “But I also think the characters are people the audience will want to follow. Their storylines really help drive this movie, so we spent a lot of time looking for the right actors for each part. We got very lucky with this group.”
“I think we found a great balance with this film,” Perry says. “With the bridge collapse, we’ve got the biggest opening sequence we’ve ever had. Then there’s the sheer suspense of not only what will happen to each of these characters but, more importantly, how it will happen, which is really what sets ‘Final Destination’ movies apart.”
Opening soon across the Philippines in 3D and regular format, “Final Destination 5” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.