I probably mixed about 6 metaphors in that opening paragraph, but I don't care. Yeah, you heard me. I'm feeling rebellious today, and when I get rebellious my writing skills go right out the window. And girl, you don't even wanna know what happens to my Trigonometry skills.
Anyway, yes...Final Destination 2 (2003). Young, fresh-faced Kimberly (AJ Cook) has a premonition as she's about to pull onto the highway: there's going to be a terrible pileup and she and her friends will die in said pile-up instead of making it to lovely and sunny Daytona Beach. Kimberly blocks the on-ramp in the nick of time; there's still a pile-up, but many of the people that would have died are now safely sitting in their cars behind Kimberly's SUV. But ol' Death ain't havin' none a dat, honey- he's gonna cross those names off his list one way or another, and soon enough the survivors are falling victim to some insane plot contrivances.
The Final Destination flicks are the type of flicks I should probably hate. As I said, they're all style and no substance- the characters, while not exactly stereotypes, are so thinly drawn they could practically be randomly generated by a computer. The plot is just as insubstantial: people avoid a big deadly mishap, people die in smaller yet more elaborate mishaps. It's fluff, I tells ya...but my god these movies are fun. Morbidly, gruesomely fun. Maybe the fact that they're not trying to be anything more than a series of outrageous deaths (and so I don't expect anything more out of them) makes them work- it's like Final Destination and I have a deal. We know going in what we're going to get out of the relationship so it's cool. I'll yell "Holy shit!" a few times, Final Destination will entertain me, and we move on. Wham, bam, and all that. Hey, it works for me...and it works for the movies as well, apparently, as the series is now three films strong.
While there's nothing to the drama to suck you into any sense of "reality" the films might have- ie, there's no emotional investment involved- the list of horror films that can match the tension of the openings of these movies, wherein the humongous "accidents" occurs, is small. You know in Final Destination 2, for example, that there's going to be a huge automobile crash....but you don't know when. During an extended sequence, as cars and trucks and buses speed down the highway, you watch all the random pieces fall into place and you wonder what's going to finally trigger the event. It's really quite extraordinary in its execution. Alfred Hitchcock once explained the difference between surprise and suspense in terms of audience awareness. To paraphrase, he gave an example of two men sitting at a table in a restaurant; if you want to give the audience a surprise, have a bomb go off under their table. If you want to keep the audience in suspense, however, you must inform them in advance that there is a bomb under the table. Wondering when it will go off will keep the audience in suspense- it's that simple. When that notion is used effectively, it's pretty powerful stuff, even if it's in a Pop Rocks flick like Final Destination 2.
I almost feel odd liking these movies, because they really are just showcases for death pieces. You sit around waiting for the characters to die, hoping the next setup will be more elaborate than the last. What does this say about m--gah! There goes the philosophizing again. You know, I liked this movie so much that I want to run right out and get Final Destination 3...hey, then I'll be all caught up with the rest of society! I'll be cool again! I will, I swear! I give it 8 out of 10 I am big, it's the pictures that got smalls.