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FINAL DESTINATION 2 Is Unironically Great After 15 Years

FINAL DESTINATION 2 Is Unironically Great After 15 Years

Final Destination 2 came to theaters on January 31, 2003–15 years ago. Which means today’s also the fifteenth anniversary of me trying to convince everyone it’s one of the best sequels ever made. I don’t mean that ironically, the way I love so many other horror movies from the same time period like the ludicrous House on Haunted Hill, Thirteen Ghosts, or the Saw franchise. Final Destination 2 is legitimately an excellent movie; it’s a fun and suspenseful film that manages to improve on the original in every way while also standing entirely on its own.

The premise of Final Destination works so well because its simplicity is terrifying. People don’t have to fear some supernatural monster or crazed killer, they are being hunted by death itself. Unseen and inescapable, it’s coming for all of us, making it the most realistic and awful terror of them all. But what makes death far more menacing in the second movie is the characters’ knowledge of what happened in the first film. The people who cheated death in the original didn’t immediately know it was only a temporary reprieve. Because the sequel exists in a world where the survivors of Flight 180 all died in mysterious ways, the people who avoided the opening car crash here understand the horrible truth of their situation. They survived, but they know death is still coming for them and there’s nowhere to run.

That extra added tension for the characters dramatically increases the emotional weight of their struggle; this makes them more compelling. The audience can get more invested. For a movie that moves quickly and has loads of fun with the over-the-top death scenes, it still has genuine pathos, especially because these strangers quickly band together to help save one another.

When they do die, their deaths are everything you’d want from Final Destination. A giant plane of glass crushes a teenage boy, his mom gets decapitated by an elevator, a barbed wire fence shoots off like a cannon slicing someone into pieces. The movie manages to walk the fine line of still being scary while also making the payoff to those moments as entertaining as the premise promises (the rest of the sequels don’t, they are basically comedies, as Final Destination 2‘s final hilarious scene hinted at). The deaths are ridiculous–that’s the point and half the fun–but the build-up to them is sincere. The movie isn’t trying to be The Shining or The Exorcist; it is supposed to be a fun throwback horror movie that is equal parts scary and humorous, which it pulls off perfectly.

What is even more impressive is how Final Destination 2 is both a solid sequel that connects and improves on the original, while still working all on its own. The characters all have personal, eerie connections to the events and survivors surrounding Flight 180; for example, Ari Larter’s 180 survivor Clear Rivers is seamlessly integrated in an organic way that makes sense for this new story. And though this is a sequel, you don’t have to be familiar with the first film to enjoy it. Final Destination 2 gives enough exposition to help you appreciate the main plot and what the characters are dealing with. The movie also adds an important element the first seemingly took away: a way to beat death by creating new life. Without that added wrinkle, it wouldn’t be as suspenseful.

And yet, even if none of that was true and the whole movie was a mess, it still gave us one of the best sequences of any horror movie ever, the opening vision of the highway pileup. The first movie showed a plane crash, but that’s a possibility you only have to face when you fly. But people drive every day, and all motorists know the creeping feeling of fear on the highway when a huge truck is a little too close, or the road is a little slick and someone is driving recklessly. You probably never think about the original Final Destination when you fly, but I bet you think of Final Destination 2 every time you are near a truck carrying logs or poles.

Any horror movie that stays with you that long has done something right, and there’s nothing ironic about that.

What do you think of Final Destination 2? Where does it rank in horror movie history? Don’t be afraid to tell us what you think in the comments below.

Featured Image: New Line Cinema

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