FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 30, 2006

Day 27- Death Be Not Proud

Seeing Final Destination 2 so long after the fact, after everyone else has seen it, talked about it, and forgotten it makes me feel...hmm. I don't know. Out of touch? Late to the party? Like maybe I really don't have my finger on the pulse of everything that's cool and fresh and happening and maybe I should just admit that I'm getting old and go play canasta at the local VFD every afternoon at 4:30? Bah! Fuck no. That's far too much philosophizing. And hell, the Final Destination films aren't about philosophizing, right? They're candy. They're nothing but Pop Rocks- not good for you in the long run, not at all nutritional or filling, but boy are they yummy.

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.


Anonymous said...

Canasta lol, ya gotta be kidding me, with so many movies to search out and enjoy, play canasta in the afterlife, ? If there is such a thing.

Final Destination 2, great movie. Suspense filled till the end, which is the way a good horror movie should be not hanging up in the middle waiting on the writter to find a solution.

Great work, you go,, and thank you very much, love your site

Maj. Damage

Heather Santrous said...

I think Part Two here has to be my favorite of the series so far. I liked the first and third movies as well but I just like this one more. Might partly be because A.J. Cook is a favorite actress of mine but they did get pretty creative with some of the deaths as well. As you pointed out, and I agree, these movies aren't about who is going to die next but how will they die. Part of the reason I have liked this series, also helps it stand out among other horror movies.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I know that's a big log, but having just caught up on the last few posts together, I thought, "Oh good lord, that windshield's about to get smashed by an enormous concrete dildo!"

What have you done to my brain, evil woman?

Snarf said...

Oh yeah! I love this movie, for those exact reasons!

And that car crash is perhaps the best executed (no pun intended) car crash scenes ever!

And one of the best final scenes ever as well!!!

Steve said...

I really liked the first Final Destination, but I found this one was running out of steam part way through. Yeah, the opening car crash scene was horrific, but then I lost interest and instead of being creative death scenes, like in the first installment, they were just "bad luck" deaths. The air bag death scene for instance was pretty heart wrenching. I'm skipping the third one.

Chop-a-holic said...

Heh, It's so fullfilling in that it's a return to the good ol' 80's slasher flicks! Everyone knows that there will be 1 person left alive in almost all Friday the 13th movies. Everyone (cripples included) in going to get a horrible, over the top death by machete, spear gun, or (one of my favorites) road flare. The success is in HOW they get killed! Anything else is just a snuff flick or Central American documentary, take your pick. So for creative shuffling loose, I'd have to agree that the FD2 delivers. Gotta love the 2nd ending too!

oh yeah, does this mean Audition gets the prime Halloween slot?

Anonymous said...

As is usual for horror movies and their inevitable sequels, I liked the original flick a lot and each sequel a little less than the one before it. But ya gotta love that entertainment professionals are out there thinking of ever-cooler ways for teenagers to die...right?

The Retropolitan said...

I just watched "Dolls."

"Dolls" is bloody awesome.

WERETEDDYBEAR! In the first eight minutes!sanctum

Stacie Ponder said...

If I can make anyone at any time think "Assault with a concrete dildo!", then my work on this planet is done.

Fatman said...

Actually, this was well worth checking out. The first one had interesting ideas and deaths but this one was a lot more enjoyable when you finally realise how evryone is connected. And the death scenes in the Final Destination films are like watching a live-action Wile E. Coyote scene. Except with gore, exploding intestines, etc.

Jason Adams said...

Stacie, I'm being a total stalker and working my way through your reviews right now... anyway, had to pipe in on this one - I cannot put into words my love for FD3... I agree with all your hesitations in wondering what it says about a person to love these movies, but I do, I LOVE it, I've watched it probably ten times now. It's just so very much fun. Guilt-free fun! That jaws-of-life sets off the airbag sending the lady's head into the pipe through her seat is possibly my favorite movie death of all time.

K, I'm done.

NSFW said...

re: "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."

The first Final Destination was brought to you by the ever wonderful pens of Wong and Morgan (X-Files mainstays), and I thought they brought actual horror to the idea that death _will_ get you, via a sort of malign butterfuly effect in which the slightest change in your environment causes a lethal chain of consequences.

By the fourth instalment all the metaphysics, all the horror, had gone, to be replaced by achingly dull death-by-poorly-maintained-carwash set-pieces.

I liked FD2, as it sat nearer the Morgan and Wong end of the spectrum, and as was noted above: the airbag death touches actual tragic genius.