Most below-average horror franchises seem to hang on well past the point of common decency, especially if they are profitable.  ‘The Final Destination‘ gave us some hope that the series would be wrapping up, albeit on a very low note.  We are not out of the woods yet, as ‘Final Destination 5’ comes to us in an attempt to bounce back from the especially egregious lows of the last two installments.

A company retreat runs into some trouble when their bus is on crumbling bridge that results in the death of almost everyone on board.  Lucky, Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) has a vision about it before it actually happens and warns everyone to get off of the bus.  They reluctantly do only to find that they were saved from a horrible fate.

An ominous coroner, William Bludworth (Tony Todd) warns them all to be careful, whatever that means.  One by one, the employees get killed off through a series of freak accidents, in the order that they were meant to die in Sam’s vision.  Apparently, there is a rule that if you are supposed to die and you have someone else die in your place, you get their remaining time.  It quickly becomes a race to find out how to survive.

Hopefully it hasn’t taken you until now to realize that this horror franchise relies purely on a strict structure and formula to operate.  The deaths are telegraphed (in order, not method of death), so there is little suspense about who is dying and when.  The only mystery is what in the room will kill them.

As usual, most of the characters are barely given any details or characteristics, so they are clearly just there to be killed.  David Koechner is the company’s boss, but good luck remembering anyone else.  Most of them are about as detailed as a group of stick figures drawn by a three year old.  William Bludworth is back and while he just fills yet another group in about the rules of death, it’s nice to see a constant presence in the series.

As far as frills and gimmicks, the 3-D thing is again utilized.  It seems to be done with a little more subtlety at times and it is a little less obnoxious than it was in ‘The Final Destination.’  Aside from that, there is some ironic, foreshadowing-rich humor throughout the story, but it mostly plays things close to the vest.

Especially if you have seen any of the other films, there is no reason to be scared by anything in here.  The creativity and deception that happens during the death scenes is why people tune in to these.

Special features include: nothing on the rental edition and a feature known as ‘Circle of Death’ on other editions which also come with a digital copy.

We have no reason to believe that ‘Final Destination 5’ is going to be the end of the series, though the credits do seem to highlight most of the kills from the other installments which can be a sign of closure.  The previous installment seemed to say everything that needed to be said, but as long as writers and producers can dream up random ways to kill off a mostly faceless cast of young actors, we will probably have to put up with more of these.

At least this fourth sequel knows what it is and meets the low expectations placed upon it.

Rated R                       92 minutes                       2011

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When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or!