Final Destination 2


“Faster, more intense” may be a term far more notorious for George Lucas’ directing style but it’s also a fitting description for a horror sequel’s go-to attitude when it comes to crafting a follow up to an earlier hit.
James Wong’s 2000’s chiller Final Destination was a prime target for sequelization seeing as it’s very premise was the ultimate realisation of a well worn horror staple: that of teens dying violently before their time. But where other movies had crafted a veritable cornucopia of stab-happy antagonists who were only too happy to assist the youths to their final resting place (ie. face down in a fucking ditch), Final Destination did away with all that and had the teens meet their end via incredibly protracted “accidents” seemingly caused by Death itself. It was an idea too good simply to be a single serving horror flick and moves were made to get a follow up ASAP that cut down on all that talky stuff and up the carnage substantially. Faster… more intense…

A year after the crashing of flight 180 set in motion a rash of freak accidents among the handful of survivors, Kimberly Corman is heading out on a road trip with her immediately unlikable friends – however, upon reaching a fateful entrance ramp to the highway she has a premonition of a spectacular pile-up that claims the life of dozens of motorists in a hellish awesome conflagration. Naturally shitting a brick, she refuses to move her car, blocking other vehicles from joining the traffic and before you can say “Holy fuck, I’m never driving behind a truck loaded with logs ever again!”, the prediction comes true, claiming the lives of her three idiot buddies but missing the people Kimberly managed to save by stopping her car.
However, much like what befell the “luckier” passengers of flight 180, soon random accidents start taking out the half dozen people who walked away from a car wreck that probably could ha e been seen from space. It seems Death is once again pissed that it’s design has been screwed with and it’s working overtime to get things back on track. However, the more the survivors begin to converse (despite the fact they blatantly all fucking hate one another), the more it seems that Death’s plan for them isn’t so random after all and that this is all to rectify ripples left over by the course corrections necessary to get things in order after the original accident 12 months prior (still with me?).
The only way Kimberly figures she can beat death is to enlist the help of the last one left standing from Flight 180 and that’s the insanely reclusive Clear Rivers…

There’s a lot of folks out there who prefer the second Final Destination over the first for many legitimate reasons but the main being that it’s – you’ve guessed it – faster and more intense than the slow burn of the orginal not to mention there’s far more deaths and they’re even more protracted than the ones we winced through before. Seeing the 2000’s entry it’s death by strangulation, decapitation and being obliterated by a bus, it raises the stakes by puncturing skulls, dismembering bodies by flying wires and exploding them under panes of falling glass. When it comes to the almost non-stop conveyor belt of outlandish death by misadventure it’s where the franchise really found it’s feet and believe you me, it’s pretty fucking spectacular. In fact, when people usually think of the franchise as a whole, chances are the first thing they think of is usually the genuinely impressive pile-up that opens the film and is hideously relatable to anyone who’s ever owned a driving license – in fact I’d even go as far to say that what Jaws did for the ocean and Psycho did for showers, Final Destination 2 does for driving behind trucks on the motorway… You know what I mean. How many times have you felt the uneasy need to change lanes just because the load on that semi looks a little off and you don’t wanna be the guy who gets utterly fucking atomized by a bit of his load flying off. They’d have to identify you by your teeth – if they could actually find enough of them scattered across the tarmac…
But while this whole faster, more intense thing is usually a good shout when expanding a budding horror franchise, I personally prefer the slower, more nuanced first installment over the hyper, bodycount hungry second and it’s because the characterisation in Final Destination 2 is simply incredibly bad. Kerr Smith and Sean William Scott’s characters in the orginal may have been rich twat and class dufus respectively, but the other characters, especially Devon Sawa’s Alex, were actually pretty well defined thanks to solid performances and a capable script – here Death’s intended targets are a cartoonish bunch of stereotypes who are so fundamentally unlikeable that you genuinely start to wonder if Death is actively going out of it’s way to kill off ass-hats exclusively. This turns out to be rather large problem because if you aren’t invested in any of the character’s safety then you’re just here to watch them get splattered – and that’s cool, but imagine how effecting the film could be if we cared about the characters before a malfunctioning lift relieves them of their damn head. Christ, even the people we’re supposed to care about can’t keep up with the movie’s relentless pace and Tony Todd’s returning mortitian is now unsubtle as a clown at a wake, Ali Larter phones it in and our leads, played by A.J. Cook and Michael Landes, are as bland as stale bread.
The movie even manages to trip over it’s own logic at times too; for example Clear’s plan to have herself committed in a padded room to keep her safe from death makes no sense at all considering her cell is still located in a building that has literally hundreds of thousands of different ways it could eradicate her – what if the building caught fire and the lock on her door failed? What if she was electrocuted by the monitor located in her room? What if tripped and drowned in her bed pan? Also, the existence of an “out” assumes that Death is totally cool with loopholes further complicating it’s already mind bogglingly complex In-Tray and straining too hard in order to try for a happy ending feels more disingenuous than a television preacher.

While Final Destination 2 is admittedly a fun, brisk ride, I’ve always felt that it’s mad dash for a Friday The 13th style rate of carnage hurts the concept which is far move spooky when given room to breathe. With that being said, director David R. Ellis (Snakes On A Plane) really goes to town on those death scenes and judged by the bone crunching, limb severing alone – my personal favourite is someone’s head getting speared thanks to a random airbag deployment – the movie manages to neatly fulfill it’s own narrow brief and ends up being more dearth than death…


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