Horror review: Final Destination 2

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 30, 2003

In his 1981 treatise on horror, Danse Macabre, Stephen King wrote: “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out.” For the most part, the makers of Final Destination 2 decided to skip steps 1 and 2 of King’s fear formula and go directly to Step 3.

Man, this is one sick, gruesomely over-the-top affair by Hollywood horror standards. But the depraved inventiveness that went into realizing FD2’s main selling point—its shocking death scenes—makes it the kind of film you observe with the same morbid fascination reserved for brutal car wrecks. And just the fact that it manages to keep the viewer involved despite the plot’s general ridiculousness makes it the most effective Vancouver-shot horror flick in years.

Not that locally lensed losers like Valentine, Bones, Thir13en Ghosts, and Halloween: Resurrection make that a big achievement.

Like 2000’s hugely successful Final Destination, which was also filmed here, the sequel revolves around the idea that death is everywhere around us, like a malevolent force waiting to strike, and that you better not try to cheat it. In the first flick, the Big D hunted down and laid gory waste to a bunch of kids who had managed to avoid a plane crash because one of them had a terrifying forewarning of the accident and got his friends off the doomed flight.

This time the pivotal vision hits a young woman (A. J. Cook) while she’s driving her daddy’s SUV on a weekend getaway with three extremely nauseating friends. In her presentiment, all hell breaks loose on the busy freeway when a logging truck loses its payload and, in a masterfully shot sequence of vehicular carnage, Cook’s character sees herself and several other drivers die very ugly road deaths.

Understandably freaked by the sight, she pulls to a stop and refuses to budge, keeping several of the motorists queued up behind her from death’s clutches (for now) and drawing the attention of a hunky young cop (Michael Landes). When he gets the distraught girl out of the car and tries to calm her, the horrific pileup she just envisioned occurs nearby. Fortunately, in the ensuing havoc her three extremely nauseating friends get taken out by a skidding semi.

The rest of Final Destination 2 is all about showing the grisly results of death catching up with the would-be crash victims, and that’s when the movie’s makeup-FX folks become the real stars of the show. I’d love to give them credit for their innovative use of fake blood and guts, but nowhere in the film’s 25-page media kit is there any mention of makeup-FX.

Maybe it’s time for the Big D to make its presence known at New Line Cinema’s promo department.

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