Final Destination 2

By David Mumpower

July 26, 2003

Looks pretty good for a mental patient, doesn't she?

Final Destination 2 celebrates the slayage. There’s no point in dancing around the issue, as the movie is little more than an extended Apple commercial and 85 other minutes of elaborate Mouse Trap-esque sets leading to horrific, painful deaths. Ironically, the film itself is horrific and painful, leading this particular audience member to pray for death, but it’s my fault for buying a ticket in the first place.

Before we go further, it’s important to note that I’m a huuuuge fan of the first film. Huge. And I don’t mean huge in the Fat Joe sense. The original had a sublime concept and superlative execution, which is the rarest of movie combinations, and even more so in the realm of horror. Mayhap it was unrealistic of me to enter the theater for Final Destination 2 expecting anything rivaling the successes of the first film, but even judging the film as a stand-alone, this is still a disaster flick…and I don’t mean Airport ’77.

Rather than start at the exact point where the last film ended (in a cliffhanger, I might add), the sequel begins several months down the road. The parallel between the two movies is that the introductory sequence is a premonition of death. In this case, Kimberly (A.J. Cook of The Virgin Suicides) prophesies an interstate crash which would mean the doom of all her loved ones plus several random strangers behind their SUV on the exit ramp. When she stalls long enough for the tragedy to occur without them, the group is saved but understandably uncomfortable in Kimberly’s presence.

As in the first movie, the Grim Reaper is nonplussed by this turn of events, so death begins to stalk all of the unexpected survivors whenever they are in inopportune surroundings. First up is a guy who has just won the lottery. As he unpacks his recently purchased booty, the camera alternates between showing the potential horrors in his room and his shiny new iMac box. Within minutes, all of his household appliances have turned on him, and he has to flee down the fire escape ladder. Ultimately, he fails to get away and is slaughtered in arguably the most gruesome manner possible (memo to the Apple marketing department: “Buy an iMac then die a brutal death!” is NOT the best marketing strategy). That’s the entirety of the movie in a nutshell right there. It’s a series of exotic death scenes as configured by the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy's Improbability Drive.

Loosely tying the two stories together is the presence of Ali Larter as Clear Rivers, proclaimed to be the only survivor of the first series of events. She has shut herself off from the real world in order to survive the constant attempts on her life. When Kimberly approaches her with the latest tale of woe, Clear is forced to acknowledge the part of her humanity that has reduced her to a half-life in a sanitorium. Since that’s not a realistic long term solution, she has no choice but to try to find a way to stop Death from constantly riding its pale horse in her neck of the woods. Together, the women set out to stop the madness of elaborate death scenes once and for all.

What follows is the thinnest of plots with several strategically placed characters included simply to boost the voltage of their slaughters. If you smoke, that’s a problem. If you have a dental appointment, that’s a problem. If you have a hunky new boyfriend, there are only two of you left and somebody must die to stop the horror from continuing, that’s a problem. My most unexpected complaint about Final Destination 2 is how predictable everything winds up feeling. The awkward exposition of important plot points beats the viewer over the head with what will happen next, and that’s a crime the original film never committed. It’s also the most damnable sin a sequel may commit. A poor second film rehashes the first movie; a terrible second film parodies it. Final Destination 2 is the bastardization of a great concept rather than even a second recitation of it. Not introducing new ideas is bad enough, but cheapening previous ones is unforgivable.

Final Destination 2 does one thing well in that it delivers exactly what it promises in the advertising. People are killed in freakish, bloody ways. If that is enough for you to want to watch a movie, you might find it acceptable. Unfortunately, I would have preferred a real plot and some multi-dimensional characters rather than Hardass Business Woman, Lottery Winner and Chain Smoker. As such, I am nonplussed by anything the movie has to offer, and it appears to be a certainty for my bottom ten list for 2003. Final Destination 2 might not be a franchise killer, but it’s close enough.

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