“Final Destination” is back again with a fifth installment and if you’re skeptical you’re not alone — leading man Nicholas D’Agosto was wary himself because in Hollywood when a movie gets a number that large at the end of its title there’s been more spirit subtraction than authentic creative additions.
D’Agosto, who plays Sam Lawton in the film, says that after he met director Steve Quale and co-producer Craig Perry he knew the math would work out fine: “When I began talking to Steve and Craig about what they wanted to do and how passionate they were, it started a continuous succession of pleasant surprises that continued throughout the shoot.”
In the opening disaster sequence of “Final Destination 5,” a suspension bridge collapses and more than 20 cars and a slew of doomed people fall to the icy water below. The scene is gruesome and heart-stopping and it sets the tone for the rest of the film, which walks a high wire between comedy and tragedy. D’Agosto’s character has a premonition about the terrible event and the actor did, too, in a way — he says that the scene’s ambitions signaled Quale’s commitment to making more than just the latest “Final Destination.”
“Steve took the franchise but he didn’t treat it like it was a sequel,” says D’Agosto, of the director who served as a second-unit director alongside James Cameron on megahits including “Avatar” and “Titanic.” “He treated it like it was his big-budget action movie. So his imprint is what separates it from its forbears. He treated it like a thriller that could live on its own.”
The film was shot over a period of three months in Vancouver, Canada, and D’Agosto says that the cast including Miles Fisher, Emma Bell and a very funny P.J. Byrne became extremely close. That’s not to say that some odd, slightly unsettling things didn’t happen. Before the shoot began the studio executives rounded up the whole creative team to have a big dinner to celebrate the project, and D’Agosto says that the head of New Line was sitting with his back to a wine rack.
“Out of nowhere, off the top rack, a bottle of red wine fell right behind his head and shattered, and this red wine pooled out beneath the chair and looked like blood,” recalls D’Agosto. “And we were like, ‘Oh my God, we are shooting a ‘Final Destination’ movie’.”
There was also the time Fisher pulled D’Agosto up off a table in a fight scene, and just as he did a heavy light fell exactly where D’Agosto’s head had been. “It happened so quickly after my head was pulled up that we caught it on camera,” says D’Agosto gamely. “It was a very dangerous close call and those are the things—when you’re shooting a film like ‘Final Destination’—that you can’t not notice.”
Now, with Wednesday’s raucous and spirited premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre over, and the film off to the box office races, D’Agosto is looking forward to seeing it a few more times with friends.
“There’s something about these movies that allows people to have a party with them. They’re a real celebration of the macabre—like those old medieval plays during the Black Death,” says D’Agosto. “Besides, I’m growing very talented at watching blood and guts on screen because I have zero emotional response.”
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