By Kim Hollis
July 23, 2003
The best thing I can say about Final Destination 2 is that has an awesome car crash scene. Unfortunately, it makes me feel a little bit sick to acknowledge that fact.
Ostensibly picking up where the first film left off, the sequel basically offers up the same creative methods for killing off its cast; however, the circuitous route it takes to get the viewer to those “payoffs” is painful and poorly acted.
Part of the problem may be that the premise is no longer fresh. Back when the first Final Destination was released in 1999, it was a surprise hit, mostly because it deftly combined humor, splatter and suspense for a thrilling and original horror flick. The cast of mostly unknowns was able to impart the impression that they were indeed a typical group of high school students, and the John Denver song “Rocky Mountain High” high played an unexpected and darkly amusing supporting role.
Now we fast forward a few years into the future and the character played by Ali Larter in the first film is the only remaining survivor (the other has “committed suicide” sometime between the events of the first film and this sequel, by which the studio means to say he wasn’t worth signing). She’s also the best actor of this new bunch, which should set off all kinds of warning lights and alarms about the overall quality of the production.
In Final Destination, our core group of characters get off a plane at the last minute due to one teenager’s vision of death and destruction, and moments after exiting the plane, it explodes and crashes, killing everyone aboard. Subsequently, Death picks off the survivors one by one, proving that one simply can’t cheat fate. The theme is the same for the sequel. A girl and her friends are headed out for spring break. While stopped on an off ramp, she has a vision of a terrible crash and freaks out, which ultimately causes a shift in the finality of that future, with a number of people who died in the vision managing to instead live to see another day.
Of course, those days don’t last long and our remaining bunch is killed in manners so outrageous it makes Freddy Krueger look tame by comparison. The deaths are very gory and violent, but at the same time are the very essence of black comedy. Even as the viewer is on pins and needles in anticipation of what might happen next, when the unavoidable finally occurs it’s almost a combination release of humor and satisfaction.
The performances are also unintentionally funny, with the worst offender being A.J. Cook as Kimberly Corman. One of the worst actresses I’ve ever seen, she’s the lead actress in the film and almost singlehandedly destroys it. She has assistance from her two primary co-stars to even things out, though. Larter, whose part isn’t actually all that substantial, is just sleepwalking through this role; her character is reduced to ludicrous mental patient status. The only other character who is even remotely memorable is Michael Landes as Thomas E. Burke. I don’t mean that in a good way, though.
Probably the worst problem for Final Destination 2 is that the film actually has good ideas; the story’s progression is as logical as one might hope and the notion that fate is inescapable has the potential to make for an interesting existential study (the first one sort of did, anyway). Instead, Final Destination 2 (pause for a moment to consider how ridiculous that title is) goes for all the glitz and none of the substance. While the effects are certainly stunning, the film is empty. It’s nothing more than another substandard entry in the horror genre that will go forgotten in a very short time.
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