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Final Destination 2 (2003)
Director: David R. Ellis

review by Christopher Geary

Predictable as it is, there's still a curious 'something' about this modest sequel to James Wong's grimly amusing supernatural chiller, Final Destination, that entertains well enough, though its plot is wholly derivative and the new batch of mortal victims facing up to "death's design" are nothing more than recycled stereotypes. In keeping with the original's travel motif, this second outing has young suburbanite Kimberley (A.J. Cook) witnessing the deaths of some friends in a major road accident. But the motorway pileup that we see happen on screen (partly in suspenseful slow-motion) is merely a premonition and, despite her panicky reaction to the warning, Kimberley manages to stop other people from driving into danger after she alerts a state trooper.
   Later, one of the lucky ones rescued from the horrific crash is killed while escaping from a fire at his flat, and Kimberley soon realises that her psychic vision is repeating the mysterious pattern established by a plane crash that occurred a year earlier (in the first picture). Recruiting the state trooper, Burke (Michael Landes), who now believes her fantastic story, and guided by Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), the only survivor of the previous tragedies, heroine Kimberley tries to understand the weird rules governing death's design, and struggles to find a way to avert further bizarre events...
   With a host of different vehicles - minivans, cop cars, haulage lorries, pickup trucks, an elevator, and even a building site crane involved in freaky and dreadful traffic mishaps; the destination of this film's storyline certainly is final. The director makes inventive use of various mechanisms or gadgets designed for safety and aid purposes (driver's airbag, fire escape ladder, hospital breathing apparatus, etc) as these devices become instruments of slaughter when unfortunate coincidences stack the odds in favour of cruel death and gruesomely shocking dismemberment. Although there's a minor element of poignant heartbreak as the 'nice' characters fall prey to an apparently demonic force along with the irritating nuisances that we're happy to be rid of, Final Destination 2 scores its biggest successes when pandering to our ghoulish delight in watching human bodies ripped to shreds on barbed wire, impaled by vicious spikes, crushed to pancake dimensions by heavy objects, or burnt alive in fiery explosions. This is the slaughter of innocents presented as slapstick horror.
   Just when she hopes it's all over, Kimberley is tricked by circumstances yet again, discovering that even her status as the besieged-by-fate group's prophet is a wicked lie. The bad omens are winning in this deadly game of wits, and the malevolent power (understood, as before, only by the macabre figure of the undertaker played by Tony Todd), tightens its grip on the fugitive souls from the road disaster, and it may be all that poor harassed Kimberley can do to save herself from the nightmare, let alone her anxious companions.
   In the end, there's one last twist, of course. The filmmakers have withheld one important bit of info from us viewers, right until the climactic scenes. Can a selfless act of defiance make any difference in the grand scheme of things unknown? Should filmmakers get away with such blatant emotional manipulation as this? In the overly commercial arena of today's genre cinema, is the sacrificing of free-willingness to suspend our disbelief the real price we pay for the freedom of 'choice' in screen entertainment?
Final Destination 2

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