VOD Spotlight: “Final Destination 5″ ramps up the tension and special effects in the franchise

Can you cheat Death? This is the question asked and answered in the Final Destination franchise, but the fifth installment offers a new answer and a delicious twist for fans: “Maybe.”

In Final Destination 5, a man on the way to a corporate retreat has a premonition that the bridge their bus is crossing is going to collapse. At the first sign of danger, he gets everyone off the bus and to safety, not realizing that none of them are really safe.

Producer Craig Perry, who has worked on the franchise since the first film, says of this latest offering, “We’re always looking at these films with an eye to taking it to the next level. … Fans want a gripping, terrifying story that is also an entertaining ride, so we really tried to ramp it up.”

For director Steve Quale, whose credits include work on such blockbuster special effects-laden films as Avatar (as a second unit director) and The Abyss (as a production assistant), upping the entertainment value was tops in his mind. “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.”

The film offers the biggest opening sequence of any of the Final Destination films — the massive bridge collapse that sets up the suspense for what will happen next.

“We began by looking online for videos of natural or man-made disasters, searching for a sequence that would work for the movie. Craig shared a video of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge falling, and I became obsessed with it,” writer Eric Heisserer says. After three months of brainstorming, they had a sequence that looked perfect.

Aerial shots of the mile-plus Lions Gate suspension bridge in Vancouver were woven with shots of a reconstructed section of the bridge created nearby where the actors were filmed falling off the bridge or hanging onto the broken railings. A second section was constructed on a soundstage where the special-effects green screen work was done.

The Lions Gate Bridge is in an earthquake area, causing some fans to wonder if the film itself isn’t a premonition of an upcoming disaster. Likely not, but it’s just as likely that some Destination fans may think twice about driving across it after seeing the film.

“Final Destination 5” is available starting Dec. 27 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.

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© 2011 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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