One year ago to the day Flight 180 went down in a ball of flame and took the lives of all but a handful of would-be passengers who got off the plane at the last minute--only to have Death (heralded by a John Denver tune) catch up with them one by one. This anniversary is not lost on our spooked heroine Kimberly (A.J. Cook) who's driving with her friends to Daytona Beach when she suddenly has a horrific premonition about a freeway pileup that kills them and those around them on the road. Thoroughly freaked she stops the car and blocks other cars right before the pileup happens--more or less saving the p.o.'d drivers behind her. Death doesn't like to be cheated and the spared motorists are soon being picked off like so many cherries in such gruesome ways they'd have been better off dying in the car wreck. Realizing the events of last year are repeating themselves--with a slight twist--Kimberly seeks the help of Clear Rivers (Ali Larter) the one survivor of Flight 180 who has since committed herself to an institution seeking safety in a padded cell. The girls along with pileup survivor CHP Officer Burke (Michael Landes) team up in an effort to somehow stop Death's ultimate design.
Cook makes a cute and appealing Kimberly but she's on the cold side. The crash survivors meet the grisliest of ends right before her very eyes but she barely bats a long eyelash before running off to save the next victim-to-be. Larter brings nothing special to Clear Rivers who is often downright unpleasant (she's so difficult you wonder why she bothered to leave her little cell to help). As the cop who never seems to be on duty Landes is suitably sensitive and eager to help although that he's an officer of the law doesn't seem to matter much when it comes to using his job to run license plates illegally hold people in custody drive like a maniac on the road etc. etc. None of our three heroes tends toward brilliance but together they make such astronomical leaps of logic that Einstein would be amazed. Among the motley crew of highway survivors which include a Valium-popping single mom a cokehead and a chain-smoking control freak T.C. Carson (U-571) as disbeliever Eugene is the only standout: "This is bool-sheet man " he proclaims before promptly going into convulsive fits of terror after witnessing Death settle the score with one of his compadres. Tony Todd (Candyman) makes an appearance as an over-the-top creepy mortician whose help Rivers and co. seek but bizarrely his cameo has nothing to do with the rest of the film.
The death dismemberment and destruction in Final Destination 2 is so grievous so bloody so seat-squirmingly ghastly sometimes you've simply got to laugh. Out loud. As horrible as they are the fantastical death scenes are this movie's ace up its sleeve. What happens when you put someone in a kitchen with some old spaghetti a lit stove burner a garbage disposal and an open window? Don't even hazard a guess but its good fun to watch--albeit from in between your fingers as your hands cover your eyes. Fans of the first movie which had more character development less gore and introduced an intriguing concept might find FD2 falls short. We already know the premise it's just a matter of watching it be carried out; the characters are so random and knocked off so quickly you hardly get to know them--or care. Most of them are such unsavory types you get the idea Death is doing the world a favor anyway. Director David R. Ellis (Homeward Bound II) is well aware he needs to give moviegoers a few good chills and jolts and he does. Without winking at the audience too much he takes the film to the edge of camp without crossing the line. Quite simply this is a horror movie hoot.