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Final Destination 2 (2003)

 

Starring: Ali Larter, A.J. Cook, Andrew Downing
Director: David R. Ellis

Rating: R

Studio: New Line Cinema

Review Posted: 2.23.03

Spoilers: None

Rating: 1.5/4

 

By Sara M. Fetters.

 

"Grisly Sequel a Destination to Nowhere"

 

While on her way to Daytona Beach for a vacation with friends, Kimberly Corman (A.J. Cook, Out Cold) finds herself in the midst of a hellish multi-car pileup. Logs streaming off a truck decapitate a police officer, a mother and sun are incinerated in a monstrous fireball and a motorcyclist is sliced in half by his own sliding vehicle. With her friends dying in excruciating pain behind her, Kim spies a semi careening towards them ready to send her to Death’s doorstep. The grim reaper has definitely decided her time has come.

 

Or has he? Suddenly, Kim wakes up to find she’s sitting at the head of the line on an interstate onramp. She’s been daydreaming and her friends laughingly implore her to get on the road. But Kimberly is sure this was more than a dream, positive this was a vision of carnage to come. Parking her car directly in front of the entrance to the interstate, the scared woman refuses to allow the cars behind her – all vehicles she saw destroyed in her vision – onto the freeway. Stepping out of the car to speak with young state patrolman John Burke (Michael Landes, Hart’s War), they’re both horrified as the events Kim witnessed in her hallucination suddenly come to pass on the road sparing the lives of the precious few she’s safely blocked behind her SUV.

 

But it isn’t over. The survivors start dying one by one in graphically gruesome fashion almost as if Death is stalking them all. To Kim this all seems eerily similar to events that happened just one year before as a group of high school students who had survived a ghastly plane crash due to a premonition by a fellow scholar were killed one by one in bizarre and grisly accidents. Soon the scared young woman tracks down the last remaining survivor of that event, Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), incarcerated in a local mental institution. With her and Officer Burke’s help, can Kim find a way to cheat Death and save the lives of everyone involved, or are they destined to macabre demises to satisfy the grim reaper’s lust for closure?

 

Final Destination 2 is about the most disgustingly perverse horror show I can possible imagine. Having sat through the works of esteemed Italian gore masters Lucio Fulci (Zombie, The Beyond) and Dario Argento (Suspiria, Tenebre) I’ve always been pretty sure that I couldn’t be too shocked by blood a guts at the movies. Wow, was I wrong. Pushing the limits of an R rating, this sequel to 2000’s surprise hit starts with the blood dripping madly and then amps it up to levels as to now unseen in American horror.

 

So what? While the movie is somewhat fun in a sadistically enchanting fashion – I couldn’t help but be curious how the next ghastly execution was going to be staged – the film is still every bit as awful as its predecessor. Each of Death’s killings is like Rube Goldberg gone mad, relying upon so many random acts in such perfect succession that they just become annoying. You’d think Death would have more to do than plan such lavish finishes for people, relying more upon the odd random falling brick than orchestrating things so perfectly that barbed wire can be catapulted through the in order to sever someone into thirds.

 

And even if it is all staged meticulously and shot with loving flair, this is still a film where inherently stupid people get killed solely for the cruel enjoyment of the audience. There isn’t any tension at all and the characters are all so one dimensional that their deaths don’t register. Towards the end I was hoping no one would survive, I didn’t have anything vested in their living anyhow, so as to make their appearance in any obligatory sequels moot. Besides, why not be the first horror film to kill off all its characters thus letting the bad guy – Death – win?

 

Of the actors, only Larter and Cook register. Returning from the original, Larter invests Rivers with a healthy dose of humanistic pessimism. She’s been through all of this before and isn’t going to make any excuses if the survivors are too stupid to take her advice. Too bad the script lets her down. Rivers is a tough, smart cookie but there is a moment where she does something so idiotic and out of character it is completely insulting. (And they must have one heck of a colorist in these mental institutions for the formerly raven-haired Rivers is distinctly blonde this time around.)

 

Cook doesn’t have quite the role to play as Larter does, but she still does the most she can with it. Kim is a fragile soul who grows stronger with each morbid passing, and Cook makes that evolution almost touching. She’s much better than the film deserves and was I given to caring if anyone survived or not I suppose it would have been her I rooted for.

 

I should also note that the opening car crash is dynamic and utterly terrifying. A brilliant menagerie of sound and fury, this opening motif startles in ways the rest of the film only hints at. This is edge of your seat moviemaking at its best, making the utter awfulness of what came after just that much harder to bear.

 

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