Final Destination 2 (2003)

To quickly sum up Final Destination 2, all one needs to do is point at the first Final Destination and say “it’s just like that one.” There are, of course, some slight differences, but after seeing two films in this series, it’s safe to say that we’re here to watch some people die. The filmmakers just need to top their previous efforts in terms of the kill scenes, and we’ll probably leave happier for the experience.

We pick up a year after the first Final Destination began. This time, there isn’t going to be a plane explosion. Our lead character, Kimberly (A.J. Cook), is driving along with her pot-smoking friends, heading to some campsite or wherever so that they can party and have a good time. I guess they’re going for an overnight weekend trip or something. It doesn’t matter, as they’re not going to make it to their destination. Kimberly has a vision involving the most elaborate death sequence the film will have (a multi-car pileup), and eventually prevents a bunch of people from being killed by deciding to stop right at the top of an entrance ramp.

Apart from the different situation, the first major difference you’ll notice is that the individuals involved aren’t all teenagers (and one teacher, but who cares about her?). Most of the people in this film are adults, actually. Sure, they’re in their mid-twenties, but that’s far removed from being a teenager. It should also mean that the characters act more intelligently, but this is a horror film so you can chuck that thought out the door. These people aren’t going to act using logic, although that goes part in parcel with Death, who once again shows up and decides to make Rube Goldberg Machines out of ordinary household items intended to kill the people he missed with the car crash.

The personalities are more prominent in this film than before, which helps the audience to identify exactly who is currently in the process of being stalked and killed. There’s a pregnant woman, a drug addict, a police officer, a mother/son combo, a teacher, and a man who just won the lottery. This diversity gave them very shallow personalities. I don’t think the intention was to make us care about them, but instead to allow us to differentiate between them. Teens can often be hard to tell apart, but there’s a big difference between a male drug addict and a pregnant woman.

Of course, fans of the first Final Destination know what to expect here: Lots of murder thanks to one angry Death. He is once again the villain, and it’s up to the characters to figure out a way to try to stop him from killing them. To do this, they enlist the help of the sole survivor from the first film, Clear (Ali Larter), and you probably won’t even believe me if I told you what they come up with in their attempt this time. If you thought Final Destination had a silly explanation, just wait until you hear this one.

Final Destination 2 is still a lot of fun, even if it’s much less of a horror film than its predecessor.

The kills are just as extravagant and over-the-top as in the first film. Take the first real character death, which involves a man lighting his entire apartment on fire, manages to escape right before it explodes, and ends up being impaled by the emergency ladder after seemingly escaping. Death cannot be stopped, it would seem, despite what the characters seem to believe. Then again, if Larter’s character as survived an entire year (even if she did have to have herself committed to a mental hospital in that time), then maybe you can cheat Death. I suppose you’ll have to watch Final Destination 2 in order to find out.

Or maybe not, because you’ve probably already figured out the answer. Either way, you’ll probably have fun with this film because it continues to show us interesting and creative death scenes. These scenes are often set-up well, and it makes me smile to see annoying characters get the head chopped off—after running from the things that seem like an actual threat. Sure, the circumstances are silly and unrealistic—I don’t know how many news reporters would be able to say with a straight face that they’re all still “Freak Accidents”—but they are enjoyable enough in their own right to be worth watching for.

There’s one thing that keeps Final Destination 2 from matching its predecessor: The way that the deaths are set-up. I don’t mean that in the circumstances leading up to the kills, as they’re often similar. Instead, I mean the cinematic techniques used. When I was waiting for a death in the first film, I was tense. I knew it was coming, any action could be the initial trigger, and I almost didn’t want the characters to move because anything might cause their demise. Here, there’s no tension. Maybe it’s because we always know that the characters will die—there’s no chance for their escape, for the most part—but I think it comes down to the musical score, the cinematography, and the lighting. Final Destination was a dark film that worked because the deaths were built up to for the audience. This one plays out like an action film, and we no longer have to figure out which decision will cause the death.

Final Destination 2 is still a lot of fun, even if it’s much less of a horror film than its predecessor. The opening car wreck is a great scene that is more complex than most action scenes in action films, but you appreciate it on a different level than Final Destination. This one is less thrilling even if the kills are more original and the characters slightly more interesting.

Conclusion: Final Destination 2 lacks the freshness of its predecessor but is still quite a bit of fun.

Recommendation: You liked the first film? You’ll like the second one.

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