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For those that like elaborate, tension-building death scenes (and who doesn’t?), Final Destination 5 has some of the franchise’s best, redeeming the New Line series after a flat fourth movie. That’s partly due to director Steven Quale, a longtime James Cameron cinematographer who makes his feature directorial debut here. But it’s also thanks to the horror series’ producer, Craig Perry, whose been holding Death’s scythe since 2000. Heat Vision caught up with Perry and Quale at the movie’s premiere after-party at Hollywood nightclub Rolling Stone on Wednesday night.
Heat Vision: What was the approach to the new movie?
Craig Perry: After the fourth one, despite its success, we realized it wasn’t really everything the fans had wanted, and in some ways it wasn’t really everything that we had wanted it to be. So we knew that we had to bring new blood and bring in fresh people that would ask questions.
So Erick Heiser was brought on board as a writer, because we knew he was really fast and he was a huge fan of the franchise and he understands the genre.
And what we did with the New Line gang was that we watched all four movies and we were able to analyze what sequences and elements worked and what didn’t work.
Heat Vision: And you introduce a new wrinkle to the death force in this movie.
Perry: We knew from the start we would really have to raise the ante narratively and not have the same old same old, so we added the idea that you could trade a life for a life. There was a debate about when to introduce that, because if you introduce that too early everybody is running around trying to kill each other, so there has to be a little bit of a slow burn so it culminates in big action.
This was one of Eric’s things: He wanted to have the characters be armed and push back against Death, give them something they could do that would save their lives. It’s critical and incredibly important to the narrative of the movie.
The second thing that was important was just that ending—and obviously I don’t want to reveal it—but we have a great twist that I think the fans are going to go crazy for. I think even people who aren’t as familiar with the franchise will be satisfied.
Heat Vision: Steven, you did visual effects on Avatar and you directed some James Cameron documentaries. How did you decide to make this your debut?
Quale: When I finished Avatar, doing the visual effects of the second unit, I said, “Let’s look for a 3D project, because that plays to my strengths.” There were a couple of projects and when the script for Final Destination 5 came out, it grabbed my attention. I had been a big fan of the original movie back in 2000 but I thought the Final Destination movies had lost their rudder and were kind of going adrift. And I thought it would be a great opportunity to go back to the roots and the basics of what kind of made it fun.
Heat Vision: This one feels pretty gory. Is that something you wanted to ratchet up?
Quale: Well, on screen time, it’s probably less gory than the others, but it was more impactful because we built the suspense and teased the audience and then hit them really hard with the gore. Then it feels more horrific than if you had it at a normal steady state. So that is the difference. Actually, having less of the scenes with the gore and then when you get it, after, say, the squirming close-up that you have in the gymnastics scene, really causes the perception that it is horrific and shocking.
Heat Vision: You up for a sixth one?
Perry: That is entirely up to audiences to decide. You know, we had so much fun making this one, it was creatively reenergizing, that we feel, if we get the opportunity, if the audience responds, we would love another chance to try and master the movie.
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