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By David Grove | February 7, 2003

People who have a fear of flying are seldom comforted by the statistic that death is six times more likely to happen in a car than in a plane. It was with that pleasant thought that the makers of “Final Destination 2″ decided to keep the sequel to the surprise 2000 hit grounded, trying to make it six times as scary as the original. That, and the feeling that audiences weren’t ready, after real life events, to watch more burning bones trapped in crashing planes, prompted the makers of “Final Destination 2″ to start with a fresh new story, leaving the events of the first film as distant a memory as bad plane food.

Directed by David Ellis, making his directorial debut following years of acclaimed work as a second unit director and stunt co-coordinator, and scripted by the hot writing team of Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, “Final Destination 2″ hits the highway from hell as we meet young Kimberly Corman (A.J. Cook), who’s on route to Florida with her friends until a near fatal car accident causes Kimberly and her friends to cheat Death, temporarily. But as we know, Death always collects and Kimberly and her friends are in for some terrifying surprises.

Final Destination focused on the character of Alex Browning, as played by Devon Sawa, who had a terrifying death premonition after boarding a plane headed for Paris. Alex’s vision became reality when Flight 180 burst into flames, killing most of his friends. Having cheated Death, or so he thought, Alex was then forced to look the Grim Reaper straight in the eye, culminating in an open ending that left Alex’s fate a mystery. What happened to Alex and what happened to Devon Sawa? “It had everything to do with narrative, and nothing to do with money or Devon’s unwillingness to come back,” explains producer Craig Perry of Sawa not appearing in the $35 Million sequel. “We’ve brought back Clear Rivers (Ali Larter) in an interesting way and we just felt that to bring both of them back would make you wonder too much just what the hell they’d been doing for the past few months. Are they locked in a vault somewhere? The story would get bogged down and the characters wouldn’t grow. We had an option on Devon to return, so money wasn’t an issue. With Clear Rivers, Ali’s character knows everything about the enemy that she and Kimberly are facing and she’s the perfect mentor for Kimberly. Ali’s character has incarcerated herself into a mental institution for her own protection so she’s the main link to the original film.”

As mentioned, Ali Larter is the only returning cast member from Final Destination to appear in “Final Destination 2,” well, aside from genre favorite Tony Todd who reprises the creepy role of Bludworth, the nicest and most profitable mortician you’ll ever meet. But the film’s really about Kimberly, and as star A.J. Cook (“Ripper”) explains, death is a lot scarier the second time around. “I really love the idea of death being the main character, not like some stupid serial killer,” says Cook who also starred in the forgettable “Wishmaster 3.” “Death is chasing you, he’s chasing all of us of course, but as far as a horror film goes there are lots of interesting possibilities. In this film, we learn more about how to cheat death and what the rules are. As far as Kimberly goes, she’s a very strong girl, very determined because her mother died a year earlier, right in front of her eyes, so she’s had to grow up quick. I meet Ali’s character and find that she’s strong too. It’s so rare to find one strong female lead in a horror film, not to mention two.”

Joining Cook and Larter in the “Final Destination 2″ cast is Michael Landes as Officer Thomas Burke, a young cop who takes a keen interest in Kimberly’s plight and the previous events of Flight 180. “I’d never seen Final Destination when I got this job,” explains Landes. “I got the job at the last minute when another actor dropped out. Now I’m a big fan. I think this film is better than the first in the way that it sets up the deaths in more clever and imaginative ways. I play a State Trooper, a real nice, decent guy who comes across this huge car accident where he meets the other characters in the film. I save A.J.’s character, the girl who has the death premonition and I team up with her to try and figure out what’s going to happen to the other people who survived the accident. My character has an interesting connection with Final Destination in that I was the cop who went to the scene of where the kid in the first film got decapitated by that train. I investigated his murder. He’s like, ‘A murder?’ He knows it wasn’t murder, but something strange. He’s very intrigued to begin with and then he bumps into the girl and he goes nuts. I’m like her protector.”

Get the rest of the interview in part two of “FINAL DESTINATION 2”: NO CRASH LANDING>>>

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