Not bothering with everyday movie conventions like plot, acting, or logic, this wisp of a sequel found its competitive advantage in “Final Destination” (2002) and pursued it with gleeful abandon. The first movie took the time to follow teen horror flick conventions, to develop characters –as thin as they were — and to throw in some theories about why all these people were dying. In the second movie, all these time-fillers are skipped and the movie becomes a heaping helping of mind-boggling mayhem. “Final Destination 2” asks why it should bother with the parsley of plot, dialogue, or characters, when people just want a plateful of death.
In many ways, “Final Destination 2” is a stronger movie than the first. Judging by the stunned guffaws of the audience, the tunneling of all the movie’s energies into a smorgasbord of imaginative deaths works better than the heavy-handed “suspense” and overall much of a muchness of the original “Final Destination.” The movie does not waver much from the basic premise of the first and it should be noted that neither movie is particularly good.
Plot? Please. If you saw “Final Destination” or even just saw the preview for this movie then you are familiar with the plot. A group of people know that they are going to die; what they do not know is how this untimely event is going to take place. It is for this ‘how’ that the audience, eyes darting around the screen to pick out possibly lethal traps, stays riveted for most of the movie’s 100 minute running time.
As with the first movie, the premise is that we cannot escape death when our turn has come, so if we were meant to die in an accident but somehow skip this fate, then we are due another visit from death to correct the omission. In this case, strangers on the merge to the highway avoid death in the form of a fiery pile up due to the premonition of the pretty but uninteresting, Kimberly (A.J. Cook). While still congratulating themselves for not dying, the survivors begin to fall victim to a string of bizarre accidents. Kimberly seeks out the sole survivor from those fated to die in “Final Destination”, Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), who has some helpful things to say but cannot stop the body count from rising.
Acting? Mediocre at best. It is saying something when the only person who seems comfortable in his role is Tony Todd returning as the unblinking mortician, Dr. Bludworth (this movie meets no definition of the word ‘subtle’), speaking in koans and providing the riddle of survival. Do they solve the riddle in time? Few will care, considering that there is no reason to like any of the characters and the main thrill of the movie comes from the elaborate nature of the deadly accidents. After a particular accident dispatched two characters at once, a lady sitting in a nearby row complained that the audience had been cheated.
Was it supposed to be camp? If this movie is supposed to be a scary thriller, then it flies far of the mark. If, however, “Final Destination 2” seeks to take us no further than bloody spectacle, then it does a fine job indeed.
Parents should know that this movie is very gory and that death is a meaningless event held up for entertainment value. Many of the accidents involve everyday items, which might lead some audience members to view their surroundings in a much different way. Several college age kids use drugs in a casual, off-hand manner that the other characters appear to accept. Parents in this movie seem unwilling to discuss possible peril with their children and are powerless to help their teens survive.
Families who see this movie should talk about the characters’ different reactions to (a) surviving the accident, and (b) facing the continuing danger to themselves. One of the characters proclaims that he is the master of his own fate and that therefore he will not die. Parents might discuss this concept of fate and the role of our own actions to influence our futures.
Families who enjoyed this movie might wish to rent “Army of Darkness” (1993), the third movie in the horror trilogy also comprising “Evil Dead” (1982) and “Dead by Dawn” (1987). As with “Final Destination 2”, “Army of Darkness” took the original scary premise to its absurd, logical extreme, resulting in a extremely camp “horror” flick, which, with lines including “it’s a trick, get an ax”, is similarly over-the-top. For those interested in more lighthearted and, frankly, more entertaining depictions of Death as an anthropomorphized being, then the Discworld books by British humorist, Terry Pratchett, are not to be missed.