There’s nothing cooler in today’s horror films than showing nothing. Where the genre used to be full of blood and guts one-upmanship, usually between rival makeup artists trying to make names for themselves, now it’s all about false alarms, open spaces and hands on the shoulders. That makes Death, the villain of 2000’s Final Destination and now its sequel “Final Destination 2,” the perfect monster: he doesn’t wear a mask and there’s nothing to chop off.
“Final Destination 2″ takes place about a year or so after Final Destination where, if I recall, young Alex Browning, played by Devon Sawa, had seemingly conquered death only to face a lethal squashing in the last frame of the film, or so we thought as the movie faded to black. His whereabouts are a deep mystery during the early moments of “Final Destination 2″ as we find out that the other survivor from Final Destination, Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), has holed herself up in a mental institution. I always wondered why none of the characters from Final Destination didn’t just lock themselves up in some CIA vault. Ah, but Death is all-omniscient and you’d probably choke to death eating yogurt or crush your skull trying to use a commode. There’s no escape from Death.
“Final Destination 2″ opens on a freeway, not an airport runway this time, as young Kimberly Corman (A.J. Cook) and her friends are driving along in an SUV, headed for a nice vacation when Kimberly experiences a most horrific vision of the near future: she foresees a terrible car accident that kills her friends and most of the other drivers on the freeway. Just as the hero in Final Destination stopped Flight 180 from departing long enough for him and a few friends to get out, Kimberly blocks traffic, preventing the deaths of her and her friends and the people behind them. When the accident happens, Kimberly’s saved. That’s when Death starts calling.
I wasn’t much scared by anything in “Final Destination 2″ which is silly and illogical. There was a creepy irony in Final Destination in that the young hero had to survive in a world where his high school colleagues were all dead. The guy felt really guilty. Here, we just have a bunch of boring, random characters whose only significance is that they survived a car accident. I think the car accident premise is seriously flawed too. How do we know that some of the “death cheaters” wouldn’t have survived the accident anyway since there were so many cars behind Kimberly? Why does the real accident happen hundreds of feet away from the car? How many cars were theoretically behind Kimberly anyway? Don’t we all cheat death at some time in our lives, in ways we don’t even know about? How does Kimberly dream and drive at the same time? Of course, it goes without saying that Kimberly’s premonition came at a rather inopportune time for the other victims on the freeway. Are they bad people or something?
It’s after this that Kimberly makes the acquaintance of Larter’s Clear Rivers character who explains the plot of Final Destination to Kimberly along with the rules. The rules have changed this time: instead of the survivors being killed off in the order that they would’ve died on the plane, as was the case in Final Destination, the car crash survivors in “Final Destination 2″ are being killed off in the order of last to first. The deaths in “Final Destination 2″ are just as physically crazy as they were in the original film with victims being mauled and squished via elevators, fire ladders, grills and, in the funniest scene in the film, where a teenage character chases after a flock of pigeons during which he’s impaled by a shard of glass. “Final Destination 2″ was directed by David Ellis, a veteran stunt director, and all of the set pieces are elaborate and over the top, especially the opening car crash scene which is like a monument to smashed cars, flying objects and scorched metal.
In fact, “Final Destination 2″ has more pure physical labor and work in it than most bad movies I’ve seen recently. The biggest problem with “Final Destination 2″ is that you never feel the real presence of Death in the film, while the “living” actors feel like they’re dead, they’re so hollow. One of the best parts of Final Destination was how Alex Browning tried to logically explain his situation to the cops who were understandably skeptical, while at the same time running out of logical explanations for what was happening. Here, it’s just like ducks being killed in a row, although we do get a goofy explanation of a certain “life process” that might be able to stop Death’s killing plan. But let’s be honest here: the only reason the order of killings has been changed in “Final Destination 2″ is to make it different from the first film and the only reason the accident takes place in a car rather than a plane is to change the setting. After that, why bring back the frigid Ali Larter who spends the whole movie looking miserable? Worse, I guess the makers of “Final Destination 2″ didn’t want to confuse the audience with two blonde chicks in the lead so they dyed A.J. Cook’s hair and made her a brunette. I mean, she’s no great actress, but she’s a real looker and since when did a horror movie suffer from having two dumb blondes as leads?
The difference between the crashed car and the crashed plane gets to the basic problem of “Final Destination 2.” I mean, you’ve heard the one about the guy who was supposed to get on an airplane that later crashed, but didn’t because he had a bad feeling or premonition? When was the last time you heard a story about a guy who was in a fatal car crash that he didn’t even know was going to happen? That’s just goofy.