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Movie Review

Death is everywhere. It lurks in hospital corridors, crowded elevators and serene ponds. It skulks through spick-and-span suburban neighborhoods, rural farms and squalid urban tenements. As all-encompassing as the air you breathe, it measures your minutes and hours, then decides when they should end. But Death is not infallible, as Kimberley has just learned. On the anniversary of Final Destination’s Flight 180 explosion, Kimberley has a vision while she’s driving up an interstate on-ramp: Pile-ups. Explosions. Fire. Blood. Lots of blood. Terrified, she hits the brakes, blocks the ramp and then watches helplessly as the wholesale slaughter unfolds on the highway. But Kimberley and those who survived the catastrophe shouldn’t think they’ve cheated Death. The rules are simple, you see. Once Death places you on its list, it will not stop pursuing until you die. Asylum inmate Clear Rivers can testify to that. One of a handful who escaped from Flight 180, she watched her fellow survivors perish in freak accidents. She huddles fearfully in her padded room, hoping Death will not find her.

Will Clear succeed where her friends failed? Can the ragtag group of strangers led by Kimberley and Police Officer Thomas Burke thwart Death’s design? After watching "disposable" characters bite the dust in spectacularly bloody fashion for 90 minutes, will audiences care?

positive elements: Early in the film, Kimberley’s dad shows great love for her by trying to ensure her safety during a road trip. Believing she has a responsibility toward those she saved from the interstate pile-up, Kimberley tries as hard as she can to preserve their lives (at one point she chastises Clear for hiding in the asylum instead of trying to help others). Before he dies, a stoner asks Kimberley to throw away his drugs and pornography so that his mother won’t be heartbroken when she goes through his belongings. [Spoiler Warning] In order to save others, Kimberley sacrifices her own life, but is later resuscitated.

spiritual content: The introduction of Final Destination 2 is a treatise on its metaphysics. Via television interview, a theorist states that people are surrounded by a malevolent force which decides when they will die. The speaker scoffs at the idea that it should be called "The Devil," preferring to simply name it "Death." Those who manage to sidestep its plans only slightly postpone their demise. A spooky mortuary worker further explains to Clear and Kimberley that "only new life can defeat Death" (the meaning of the phrase is much debated). Otherwise, it will continue to stalk you. The film’s plot follows these principles to a T. Elsewhere, a man claims that he alone controls his life, not any spiritual force, and a cross-wearing woman says she’s unafraid to join her family in heaven (in one perilous situation, however, she frantically screams that she doesn’t want to die). Kimberley has numerous visions about the future.

sexual content: In a scene director David Ellis describes as "totally gratuitous," a motorcycle-riding woman flashes her breasts at two guys (the camera lingers on the nudity). Comments fly about casual sex, sadomasochism, oral sex and molestation while under anesthesia. A girl lying on a hospital table is seen without her shirt on (she’s wearing a bra). An elderly man sniffs a woman’s hair, aroused by its scent. Several characters dress immodestly.

violent content: If Death is a nearly all-powerful force that can manipulate natural environments and human actions, couldn’t it kill its victims with an embolism as they slept? Of course. But that wouldn’t attract scores of horror fans eager to soak in ridiculous amounts of blood and gore. People perish in complicated and horrible ways throughout the film. They're impaled, decapitated, immolated, crushed, exploded and drowned. Items ranging from logs and PVC pipe to escape ladders and artificial limbs become implements of death too gruesome to document in detail. Ellis’ own words speak volumes more than any description. "It’s sick," he said. "I look at it, and I go, ... that’s just not right. But we decided that if we were going to do it, then do it. And that meant showing the gore instead of cutting away from it."

crude or profane language: Almost 20 uses each of the s-word and f-word, and about the same number of mild profanities and crude expressions. God and Jesus’ names are abused over a dozen times. Characters make obscene gestures.

drug and alcohol content: Rarely is a character not smoking, sipping or snorting some controlled substance. One of Kimberley’s friends puffs on a joint and carries a huge bag of pot. Another constantly snorts cocaine. A grief-stricken mother pops a Valium. Numerous people drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.

conclusion: Final Destination 2 is the yin to the yang of M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Whereas Signs posits an exhaustive providence that actively works all things (including tragic death) to good, Final Destination 2 features a malicious sovereignty that manipulates events so that its subjects will die in the most painful, terrifying and messy ways possible. Those extreme portrayals, plus rampant vulgarity, nudity and spiritual counterfeits murder this movie. What's worse, Ellis claims he had "no problems with the ratings board at all. Really, it’s kind of sick that they’ll let you show that stuff." His words, not mine. But I couldn't have said it better.


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