Final Destination 2 (2003)
Directed by David R. Ellis

Starring A. J. Cook, Ali Larter, David Paetkau James Kirk, Jonathan Cherry, Justina Machado, Keegan Connor Tracy, Lynda Boyd, Michael Landes, Sarah Carter, T.C. Carson,

"Final Destination" was one of those female-oriented horror films that many eighties fear fans despise. Very "Scream"-like. High on suspense and plot twists but pretty low in the gore department. Too slick for its own good, some would charge.

Throwing political correctness to the dogs, the sequel serves up one of the goriest mainstream Hollywood films in years, complete with bad dialogue, a ridiculous plot and terrible acting. The only thing it was missing was naked female genitalia to turn it into a full-fledged sleaze-a-thon. As it stands, "FD2" is a campy, mindless sequel that makes up for its lack of Wes Craven-like quality with Tom Savini-like quantity: plenty of creative killings. There's a beheading by elevator, torso slicing by barbed wire fence, death by ladder in the eye, someone gets squashed flat by a pane of glass, a spike through the brain you name it. Ninety-nine percent of the cast doesn't make it, and the film is given a pretty large cast to play with.

At least it takes the events of the first film into account with its story. The lead character of part 1 is now dead. The events of that film have been memorialized ad nauseum by the news media, which is reporting on the one-year anniversary of the plane crash and subsequent freak accidents of the crash survivors who avoided death by skipping the trip. Now, a new accident has taken place: A bloody pile-up on a highway. A college-age girl (Cook) had a premonition about the disaster, and blocked an on-ramp, preventing a dozen or so people from becoming part of the carnage.

As in the first film, this only leads to a temporary reprieve from the targeted victims. Death has marked them, and is now killing them off, one by one, in freak accidents the likes of which haven't been seen since the Omen series. Eventually, our heroine gets a clue, and in an attempt to cheat death hooks up with the lone survivor from the first film (Larter), named "Clear Rivers" if you can believe that. She has committed herself to an asylum. Tony Todd ("Candyman") has another brief appearance as the mortician who seems to understand what's going on, but will only drop sadistic little hints about what the terrified survivors can and can't do in order to stay alive.

Even more than Part 1, the real star of this movie are the elegantly choreographed freak accidents. They take on an inevitable, comic flavor, and by the end of the movie have devolved into a total gag, but manage to carry what's an otherwise weakly plotted, poorly written movie. Director Ellis (who did second unit work on the Matrix series) makes up for lack of story by pouring on the gore and camp. Unlike Part 1, this isn't a bullet-proof, super-slick, "Scream" knock-off for the "Friends" crowd. "FD2" is sleazy and (literally) gutsy -- a flawed-but-fun fear fest in the tradition of "Jason X" -- only not set in space. Although it's ultimately a success, it does become painfully obvious midway through the film that the Final Destination concept only has so far to go. Hopefully, New Line will spare us another sequel, although given the box office success of this entry, that's probably wishful thinking.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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