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Final Destination 2 (2003)

One year has passed since the disaster of Flight 180 and the series of bizarre freak accidents that picked off the survivors one by one. Now, only one of the Flight 180 survivors remains, and things are about to start all over again…

Final Destination 2 is a horror film directed by David R. Ellis and the first sequel to Final Destination. It stars A. J. Cook, Michael Landes, T. C. Carsen, Jonathan Cherry, and Keegan Connor Tracy, with Ali Larter and Tony Todd reprising their roles as Clear Rivers and Mr. Bludworth, respectively.

On the one-year anniversary of Flight 180, Kimberly Corman is about to embark on a road trip with several friends when she has a premonition about a horrific multicar pileup on the highway ahead, in which she and her friends are all killed. She blocks the entrance ramp with her S.U.V. to prevent the other potential victims from entering the highway, attracting the attention of a police officer in the line, and as he questions her the nightmarish pileup happens right on schedule. While those whose lives she saved are initially relieved as the collectively dodged bullet, it soon becomes clear that Death is going to be balancing the books again, with a twist: the ones saved from the impending pileup are all connected in a very specific way, and Death is working backwards to tie up all the loose ends…

Like its predecessor, FD2 opens with what would become the series’ trademark – a horrific deadly chain reaction with a high death toll. This time around, it’s a pileup on the highway, a sequence that has been lauded for its sheer engineered chaos by everyone from New York Magazine to Quentin Tarantino. The other death sequences in this movie are also creatively engineered, as Grimmy toys with his victims, sometimes offering a promise of escape before kicking them in the nuts once and for all. The use of CGI, in addition to models and castings of the actors, strategically stuffed with bloodpacks and innards, enhanced the deadly domino effects, where lesser effects might have left them looking fake. This is still early in the franchise, to there is still a fair variety of “commonplace” freak accidents scattered between the deadly dominoes and step-and-die deaths, leaving even those who had seen the first movie guessing how a particular sequence might end, without violating the laws of physics too much. The only times when conventional physics were really “enhanced” for the sake of the story were the logs falling off the truck to start the pileup, and the flying barbed-wire fence.

The acting was still mostly good in this one. While the only familiar faces were Clear (who had committed herself to a long stay in a padded room after seeing Alex killed offscreen) and Mr. Bludworth (creepy as usual), the newcomers did well, with Kimberly conflicted and tortured by her visions of potential disasters even as she tries to convince the others that everything happening was not just a series of twisted coincidences, and there is enough variety in the other leads to offer variety without lapsing into horror movie victim cliches. Rory the ambiguous cokehead was the only really “standard” slasher victim, and even he was interesting enough. The characters reacted plausibly to seeing companions and loved ones massacred; Nora is believeably traumatized after seeing her son flattened by a sheet of glass, and the numb despair that starts to set in once the others start to believe that Death is out to get them is plausible.

I enjoyed Final Destination 2 almost as much as I did the original. While the easy way out would have been to just retread the plot of the first, FD2 manages to keep the concept relatively fresh without losing the spirit of the first. Fans of Final Destination and slasher movies in general will enjoy this sequel.

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