MARCH 17, 2013
As I mentioned in my post about the screening itself, Final Destination 2 is the only one of the series I didn't get to see theatrically (because I was broke at the time), but I like how it progressed from my POV - I saw the first at a normal Friday night screening, the 3rd one at the premiere via a website giveaway (meaning: you get to attend the premiere but you have shit seats), and then parts 4 and 5 at press screenings. So now for 2 I got to host it myself, something that obviously wouldn't have been a possibility in 2003 when it was released. Go me!
There was a Q&A with the writers that I meant to rewatch the movie to prepare for, but never had the time, so I was nervous that it wasn't as good as I remembered. But it only took a few minutes to know I didn't have to worry - that opening car accident, if anything, is even better now than it was in 2003. With a ton of real stunts and a camera that's not jerking around and zoomed in like every fucking action scene we see today, it was just pure bliss to watch unfold, even as I sighed about how much the art of a good action sequence has degraded just over a mere 10 years. David Ellis establishes where the cars are in relation to each other, the cause and effect of each bit of damage that occurs once the first log drops, and blends CGI with the real stuff seamlessly - it's just a terrific sequence that would make the movie worth viewing even if the rest of it was total garbage.
Luckily, it wasn't. It's a BIT slower than I remembered, but that's because the sequels (well, parts 3 and 4 anyway) have ignored any attempts at mythology like this one does, and merely raced from death to death scene. This one actually had a big subplot I forgot all about, that each of the characters in this film had their lives changed because of the events of the original - one was on the bus that hit the Amanda Detmer character, hero cop (Michael Landes) was called to investigate the train accident that killed Stifler's character, etc. I'm not sure if it's a totally successful idea - I love the idea that there were repercussions to Death's plans that stretched beyond the 6-7 people that got off the plane, but that they all ended up on a freeway on-ramp at the same time a year later is stretching things even for a horror movie - if Death could engineer that, why couldn't he just kill them earlier? If the idea was introduced early on and had the people brought together later somehow, it might have worked better for me.
Otherwise, top notch fun, and perfect midnight movie viewing as you're never more than 10-15 minutes from another ridiculous, applause-worthy kill scene. I was quickly reminded of how much the PG-13 rating hindered Shark Night, as the late David Ellis seriously knew how to deliver gore in a satisfying way (writer Eric Bress told a story about how he wanted the car engine that hit Krista Allen in FD4 to still be running so that it would churn up her insides and make it more splattery!), and did a better job with the digital FX than many of his peers. Especially now that it would prove to be his final film, it's a shame that it was neutered - hopefully some R-rated elements remain and will surface someday.
Another thing I dug about this that was a bit lacking from the following sequels is a wider variety of characters. In all of the other films it's all teens/college kids with maybe one adult, but here there's a young kid, his middle aged mom, some 20 somethings, a 30ish cop, and Terence "TC" Carson, who was about 44 when they filmed it so let's assume he was supposed to be late 30s. Not only does it make it a bit more realistic, but it allows the script to mix up the possibilities, such as the amazing dentist scene. Usually going to the dentist is a solo activity, unless you happen to be a 15 year old (written younger, and it seems they never really changed the script much to accommodate an older actor) which means your mom comes along and thus Ellis can draw suspense from two locations - the kid on the dentist's chair and the mom in the waiting room. There are actually a couple of fun "who is actually the target" scenes here, which again elevates this above say, part 3, where Mary Winstead and the guy were just sort of driving from kill to kill, warning the person and failing to save them - it actually works as a suspenseful thriller! The gratuitous deaths are just the release.
Oh, and AJ Cook, sporting brown hair. I'm a brunette man, and she's usually blond, so this was wonderful. Also, post Battlestar Galactica it was fun to see Keegan Connor Tracy ("Jeanne", one of Gaius' followers from that silly religious cult subplot) and Aaron Douglas who played Chief Tyrol, one of my favorite characters. Otherwise I was kind of surprised at the lack of now-familiar faces; the only other one I recognized from later projects was Justina Machado, who I had just seen 12 hrs before in The Call (she played the killer's wife). Usually these sort of movies are treasure troves of future faces! Conversely, the soundtrack was thankfully free of dated music; there was an Incubus song in there somewhere but otherwise it was classics like "Highway to Hell" and "Rocky Mountain High" (plus the late Shirley Walker's usual top notch score).
It's a shame that the later sequels dropped any real attempts at a mythology; even though Cook and Landes survive, they're never mentioned again if memory serves, let alone brought back as Ali Larter was here. Someone will find evidence of "this happening before" in a newspaper or online article, but that's about it - there's no real connection anymore unless you count that one thing in the 5th film (which I won't spoil because I'm still convinced 99% of fans haven't seen it), and since that one didn't perform up to par at the box office we can assume that if a 6th film ever comes along it will be a more or less clean slate, save for perhaps Tony Todd. Speaking of Todd - the screenwriters assured me that the producers don't ever want him explained, so that's a relief. As I write this I just learned that there will be an Escape From New York reboot that includes an origin story for Snake, which to me sounds like the absolute worst idea of all time, so it's good to know that not every fan favorite character needs to have his mystique completely ruined by creativity-starved producers.
All in all, a top notch screening. The print was beautiful and it was great to be back in the New Bev after a long absence (they've been showing Django Unchained almost exclusively for nearly 3 months; this was my first screening there since October!), though the crowd was noticeably smaller than average - hopefully it's just because folks were out drinking for St. Patrick's Day a day early or sleeping in for the marathon - I figured this would have been a bigger draw since it's considered the best in the series by many and also a fitting midnight movie unlike some of my others (Monkey Shines, Faculty). We're working on something very awesome for next month though; if it works out I want that place PACKED! But to those who did come - much appreciated, and if you won a prize I hope you enjoyed it!
What say you?