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John’s Horror Corner: Final Destination 2 (2003), bringing more humor, more splattering gore, and more elaborate death scenes.

February 14, 2019

MY CALL: Much more gore and bloody excitement, as sequels tend to deliver. Every bit as fun as FD1 but somehow it feels like less of a masterpiece a more of an awesome rollercoaster I want to ride over and over again. MORE MOVIES LIKE Final Destination: All the Final Destination sequels except for maybe part 4 (The Final Destination) starting with Final Destination (2000), and the Saw films (2004-2017) if you’re up for much more brutal death scenes.

Franchise SIDEBAR: Final Destination (2000) ended strong with Alex (Devon Sawa; Idle Hands, The Exorcism of Molly Hartley), Clear (Ali Larter; House on Haunted Hill, Resident Evil 3/4/6) and Carter (Kerr Smith; My Bloody Valentine, The Forsaken) having beaten Death’s design and finally enjoying a drink in Paris… that is, until they realize they made one mistake (in Alex’s seat diagram analysis) as death takes Carter and the screen goes black! When FD2 opens, we learn that the survivors of Flight 180 all ultimately died mysterious deaths except for Clear.

Exactly one year after the incident of Flight 180, on their way to Daytona Beach, Kimberly (A.J. Cook; Wer, Wishmaster 3), Dano (Alejandro Rae; The Thaw), Frankie (Shaun Sipos; Texas Chainsaw 3D, The Grudge 2, The Skulls 3) and Shaina (Sarah Carter; Skinwalkers, Wishmaster 3) have pulled onto the interstate. As if director David R. Ellis’ (Asylum, Shark Night 3D, The Final Destination) sole purpose in life was to one-up the opening kill sequence in Final Destination (2000), we enjoy an outstanding pile-up extravaganza complete with lumber harpooning through windshields and bodies, cars doing 75mph-cartwheels toward other cars, trucks plowing through exploding cars packed with horrified drivers’ faces, and a man burning in agony as a truck rends its way through his shrapnel. It’s the kind of scene you’ll find yourself rewinding because it’s loaded with nuance contributing to the tragedy. Bravo, Mr. Director. Over 120 seconds of pandemonium onslaught. You definitely have my attention. [hitting REW button now]

But fear not, it was just a daydream, right? Well, not for Kim, who prevents all the other cars from her pile-up premonition from getting on the interstate. A police officer (Michael Landes; Shot Caller) gathers all the survivors to exchange information—Kim along with Evan (David Paetkau; Disturbing Behavior), Tim (James Kirk; Final Destination), Kat (Keegan Connor Tracy; White Noise), Rory (Jonathan Cherry; House of the Dead, Another Wolfcop), Eugene (Terrence ‘T.C.’ Carson; Stan Against Evil), Isabella (Justina Machado; The Purge: Anarchy) and Nora (Lynda Boyd). They part ways, and now it’s time for Death to correct the “mistake.”

The “crappy apartment lottery winner” death scene is a treat. As Evan prepares a disgusting meal, Death peppers red herrings across the screen from stray squirts of oil near the flames to accidental magnets in microwaves. As if being punished for his taste in frozen fish sticks, a kitchen oil fire starts as his hand is stuck in the sink drain and the microwave threatens to explode at him. Even after escaping his exploding apartment, he is killed by way of his own filthy littering habit. Take that!

In this sequel we have two different informative characters: Clear (Ali Larter) explains to Kim how to detect the presence of Death and to recognize the signs, and the mystically prophetic coroner (Tony Todd; Candyman, Night of the Living Dead, Final Destination 1-3/5, Wishmaster, Hatchet II) chews the scenery as he offers advice on how to defeat Death… with a smile! In just two films, Todd has created perhaps my favorite recurring exposition cameo character in a franchise.

 

Moving on, the “dentist office death scene” is another joyous confluence of red herrings. A fish tank leaks and shorts out an outlet, window-slamming birds startle the dentist (and us!) as he picks and injects and drills his patient, building to the ultimate splattertastic death.

Shifting from a rollercoaster of feisty red herrings to a more uneasy scenario is the “elevator prosthesis” death scene, which forces us to endure a haphazardly fast cultivation of dread as a terrified victim suffers a brutal death. But not all of the deaths are elaborate. FD1 had the shockingly abrupt bus death scene, and now FD2 has the “air bag death scene”—a scene which make me cackle—and the “barb wire fence” death scene—which was… just… just check out this epic GIF!

At this point we should address that all CGI effects and stunts exceed anything we saw in FD1. Not only are the effects vastly superior, but the gore has been amplified as victims are impaled through the head, torsos practically explode from projectile lumber impact, blood spurting decapitation, full body splatter liquification, compound insta-slicing dismemberment, and chunky salsa gory explosions.

So the effects are much better and the death scenes perhaps more interesting. How about the characters? Following FD1 suit, our slightly older cross-section of survivors starts out with a bit more skepticism than our FD1 teen ensemble. But as they learn to work together and figure out what they’re facing, their interactions grow more interesting, their characters co-develop, and we invest in them. The most demonstrably endearing (yet funny) example was when Rory, assuming he’d die before her, asked Kim to clean the porn and drugs out of his apartment (if he died) so that his mother wouldn’t find anything that would break her heart. It’s… yeah, I know we’re talking about porn and drugs, but it’s kinda’… sweet. Yet another positive, this sequel offers more humor than FD1. A lot more. Sure, that can mean less dread. But the movie ends with a closing scene every bit as goretastically silly as you’d find in Dead Snow 2 (2014) or Tucker and Dale versus Evil (2010).

All told, this sequel made me jump less but giggle more, with a similar amount of OMG shock. FD1 is clearly the better film in my eyes, but FD2 is more rewatchable. Both are highly recommended by this fan!

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