In a prime example of horror movie evolution, Final Destination 2's producers have identified exactly what made the original surprise hit so entertaining - - inventive slaughter scenes. So in streamlining the sequel, they've trimmed the fat (did anyone really care about the whining characters' lives?), upped the kill count and injected a streak of cheesy humour that keeps you grinning as you're grimacing.
It's been a year since Clear Rivers (Ali Larter) and co escaped the aircrash tragedy of Flight 180, and now another batch of perishers are cheating death's design by avoiding a huge highway pile-up. Not one to let his masterplan go awry, the Reaper promptly targets Kimberley Corman (AJ Cook) and the rest of the survivors, constructing elaborate set-pieces to squish them into place. They fight back by enlisting the help of Rivers, sole escapee from the first movie.
Building on the complicated, Omen-inspired technique of its predecessor (you know those deaths are coming and there's no escaping them), the tension is stretched to breaking point as the multi-layered, demise-dealing sequences are slotted into place. Yet Destination plays like a collection of greatest hits. Yes, upping the death count is the movie's prime blessing, offering plenty of claret to chat about, but it's also the film's downfall. Pauses now come with a neon sign, the chunks of exposition mouthed by cardboard-thin characters that you couldn't give a toss about. Just take a look at the audience: everyone's fidgeting, waiting for the other shoe (or bowling ball or knife or...) to drop, the blood to fly and the screaming to start up again.
Looking into the future, there's only one way for the franchise to end up, a natural conclusion to this evolutionary change. Yes, Final Destination 3 will ditch the plot altogether and just go for the splatty money shots of bright young things meeting grisly deaths. Jackass: Extreme, anyone?