Friday, October 14, 2011

31 Days Of Horror: Day 13: Final Destination 2

Whelp, ask you shall receive.

Most of the time when I describe a sequel as “The same thing but moreso,” I mean it as a criticism. But with Final Destination 2 that turned out to be just the right approach. Final Destination 2 is just what a horror sequel of this kind should be, bigger, bloodier and actually a good deal more clever than it has to be.

As in the first Final Destination a young woman receives a premonition of a disaster and her actions then prevent several people from dying. Death slaps his bony hand against his forehead and gets to work balancing his ledgers in a manner suggesting that Death has a lot of time on his hands and is awful bored. Probably lonely to, I imagine after flawlessly executing (hur hur) one of his Rube Goldberg Body Counts he turns around to give someone a high five, only to slump his shoulders in the realization that no one is there. Poor little fella.

Ali Larter returns from the last round, having shed the black locks after producers realized that she made the least convincing Goth in the entire world in the first movie. Here she looks ready to bash death over the head with a field hockey stick. Also returning, the man with the voice to turn your bowels to water, the man with a voice so deep it made Keith David say, “Damn.” The one the only Tony Todd returns to bring a Tony Todd shaped ray of sunshine to the proceedings. Then once again leaves after one scene to the crushing disappointment of all.

Still his absence doesn’t hurt this time, simply because there’s a lot more going on. Director David Ellis, stepping in for the team of Morgan and Wan, has a long history as a stunt coordinator in Hollywood and he puts it to damn good use. The deaths here have a visceral feel that was absent to the first one. Again looking at the opening scene, semi trucks and sedans get smashed up all over the place in your average Hollywood film, but if this one doesn’t make you flinch you’re one cold fish.

The death scenes are cleverer too. Playing off your expectations in unexpected ways. In one scene a seemingly doomed character makes his ways through dozens of death traps only to be killed by a left over plate of spaghetti. So in the next scene when it looks as though the character in question is about to snuff it thanks to something ridiculously mundane we buy it. Only to have his death come in the most over the top manner in the film. The movie manages to keep you off guard. No mean feat for a franchise whose entire gimmick is based off of the fact that you know these people are going to die.

The same kind of care is taken with the plot. Instead of just rehashing the events of the first film, Final Destination 2 actually comes up with a plausible (well you know what I mean, interesting anyway) reason for death to stalk these individuals. Final Destination 2 beats it’s predecessor in care, creativity and energy. It’s a whole lot better than it has to be. 

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