I believe “Final Destination” (2000) was a widely misunderstood film. On its face, it seems to be a generic, unbelievable horror film about teens who get killed, with thin characters and wooden dialogue. Upon further examination, though, it becomes clear that the filmmakers — “X-Files” veterans James Wong and Glen Morgan — intended it that way. They want us to laugh with the film, not at it. Surely these guys, being responsible for many genre-defying episodes of a genre-defying TV series, know “lame horror flick” when they see one. “Final Destination” was not meant to be taken seriously, but as a wickedly dark spoof that, like “X-Files,” successfully blended mockery of horror with actual horror. On that level, it was a decent piece of entertainment.
Now comes the depressing and obligatory sequel, made by new, inexperienced people, featuring almost none of the faces from the original, and using not a continuation of the first film’s plot, but THE SAME PLOT, recast with different characters. It is wearisome to contemplate Hollywood’s dearth of good ideas.
The story is that a teen-age girl named Kimberly Corman (A.J. Cook) foresees a horrific traffic accident in a vision, acts accordingly, and prevents the deaths of nine or 10 people who would have otherwise perished. But this messes with Death’s design — when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go — and soon Death, merry prankster that he is, begins killing off the survivors anyway, using increasingly elaborate and ghastly methods.
Kimberly knows what’s going on. The near-accident occurred one year to the day after a teen-age boy foresaw a plane crash, got off, and spared the lives of several people, all of whom also died soon thereafter; this is what happened in the first “Final Destination.” She seeks out Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), the one person from that earlier incident to still be alive, though she has barricaded herself at a mental institution, safe from anything that could possibly kill her.
(This is a typical horror-film institution, by the way, all mist-enshrouded and featuring raving lunatics who yell things like, “Get Ã¢â‚¬Ëœem off me!” when there’s nothing on them.)
Clear decides to help Kimberly and her fellow survivors, who are quickly becoming convinced that Death IS after them, since sure enough, they’re starting to drop like flies. They visit a creepy mortician (Tony Todd, from the first film), who gives them some ideas about how to escape Death once and for all.
The film is a copy of its predecessor, but a bad one. The plane crash vision in “Final Destination”? Whatever critics said about the film, they loved the sweaty terror of that well-produced sequence. The multi-car collision in “Final Destination 2”? OK, but marred by the over-use of fiery explosions, including a car that bursts into flames simply by having its top half — the half where the gas tank ISN’T — being sliced off.
More to the point, the aforementioned attitude of the first film is gone here, like maybe the new filmmakers didn’t even get it, much less were able to duplicate it. Where “FD1” was full of subtle visual clues foretelling characters’ deaths, and the use of “Rocky Mountain High” as a constant harbinger of doom, “FD2” manages one or two lame hints then gives up.
There is no atmosphere. This sequel, a deliciously stupid 90 minutes of outrageousness, actually is all the things that those who misunderstood its predecessor thought IT was. It’s lame and obvious, though I will say that at least it’s never boring. As far as bad movies go, this is a great one.
D+ (1 hr., 30 min.; )