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 Final Destination 2
 Critic's Rating
   [B]
 Date Posted
   2nd April, 2003
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Cast: Ali Larter, A.J. Cook, Andrew Downing
Director: David R. Ellis

Final Destination 2 returns us to that familiar world populated by teenagers and adults who are haunted by the impending fear of death because they have cheated it once before. The premise of this sequel to the popular original film features another individual who, at the start of a journey, witnesses a startling premonition that helps her save the lives of many who would no doubt have been victims otherwise. This puts her and those that she has just saved in a dilemma where they must be wary of the grim reaper's every move and keep trying to outwit Death.

The opening brings us up to date, via a television show, on the shocking events that transpired in the first film. Owing to the vivid visions that a travelling high school student has, the lives of his and many other fellow students are saved from a freak accident that he perceives before it actually occurs. This leads to the systematic and carefully calculated deaths of all those who survived. Death, the film argued, was something that could not be cheated, and it would take away its intended prey at its scheduled time.

The freak accident (or in the case of our protagonists, near accidents) this time occurs on a highway headed towards Daytona, exactly a year after the events of the first feature. Kimberly (A. J. Cook), who is on a road trip with her friends, has an intuitive flash that warns her of a pile up in which she and many others will be fatally involved. Many warnings are provided, which include and are not limited to, spilling coffee, inappropriate radio songs ('Highway to Hell?'), leaking transmission fluid, a beer drinking truck driver and others that reek of trouble.

Soon enough the highway pile up that we were warned about has taken place and hysteria sweeps over the principle characters. Much like in the first feature, the premonition is hauntingly vivid and technically well made. It stretches on to the point where you forget that its only taking place inside someone's head only to be jolted back to reality by the startled look in the eyes of the person who has just had the mental experience. In all the visual excitement, its easy to forget that the precognition comes first, followed by the actual event.

The accident claims 18 lives, however many more would have died had it not been for Kimberly's timely intervention. These survivors gradually find out, after the subsequent death of one of them, that since they were originally slated to die, they are living on borrowed time, one that will quickly be redeemed by their deaths. And thus begins the race to find an inconsistency in Deaths preset plans to send them on a trip of the after life. Think of this as a more morbid version of the Scream trilogy without the star cast or the hip, sardonic humor.

Along the way, Kimberly befriends a State Trooper (Michael Landis) who saved her from the highway accident. During the routine police questioning, events from a year ago are discussed and it is learned that Clear River (Ali Larter) from the original film is the only survivor of that accident. Fearing that she may soon find herself a prey to the nefarious designs of death, River has confined herself to the isolated settings of a psychiatric institution.

Those who remember the first film from a couple of years ago may also recall the elaborateness of the death scenes that took place. This film is no exception in the way it weaves slight mistakes, forgetfulness, carelessness and coincidence into freak accidents that are astonishing violent. Yes the gore is amplified, yet the shock value seems slightly schlocky. The first time it all happened it was easy to be swept away in astonishment of the meticulous way that each character met their end. This time, owing to both the high expectation value that accompanies most popular sequels and our familiarity with the rules, the gruesomeness feels more like an excuse to practice kitsch effects. The performances seem too self aware, like they know what they've set out to do is a farce.

In spite of its inherent flaws, the viewer isn't allowed to despair, at least not long enough for them to feel any loss. A great short re-appearance by Tony Todd (of Candyman fame), the revelation of a method by which to cheat death and an intriguing connection to the events from the first film allow one to forgive the obvious flaws and enjoy the gory ride. And enjoyable it is since the incredulous, unconventional nature of the onscreen killings prevents anyone from taking any of this seriously. The very final scene in the film only strengthens this argument. If nothing else, a viewing of Final Destination 2 shall instill people to be more careful and less casual about the results of their actions. - Faizan Rashid

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