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Here's to gore
Jeet Thayil |
March 01, 2003 14:26 IST
If you are a fan of horror, you could do worse than Final Destination 2. The movie makes a bold assertion. We know the only thing you really want to see are people being killed, its makers say, so here goes gore. The next couple of weeks may be your last chance to see it -- the film is on its way out of the theatres in the US.
FD2 is a sequel to James Wong's horror thriller, Final Destination, in which the survivors of a plane crash realise they are all on Death's wish list. FD2 has a similar premise. On the first anniversary of the crash, a freeway disaster spawns a long list of survivors who are picked off one by one.
Director David Ellis was a stuntman and his preoccupations show. The film's most creative moments are its death scenes. It is as if the director has taken special pleasure in concocting interesting new ways to kill off his characters.
In this movie, everybody dies. And in the most unexpected ways: during family dinners, eating alone at home, after winning a lottery, after a visit to the dentist, while sitting in a parked car.
They are decapitated by an elevator, sliced into pieces by wire, flattened by a pane of glass, murdered by a fish tank, stabbed by a ladder, assaulted by an air bag. They survive the most horrifying accidents only to die moments later through a most banal twist in the tail.
Random inanimate objects become lethal weapons giving the whole film a surreal feel, supercharged with menace in each seemingly innocuous scene.
The script does not really exist, and it does not really need to. After a while, the gory flattening and decapitation take on the feel of a cartoon death. You cannot take them seriously and, in a way, that is the movie's unexpected charm.
In some ways, the sequel outdoes the original. It produces a wry take on the genre by dispensing with everything other than the death of its characters. There is no script to speak of, no character development, hardly any plot or story, no romance, drama or philosophy.
The most well-rounded character in the film, it soon becomes apparent, is Death himself. He is constantly invoked as a living presence, with a voracious appetite for those who hope to escape their final destination -- an appointment with the grim reaper.
The virtuoso opening car crash is in itself worth the price of admission. It is choreographed like an automotive death ballet, slow motion sequences stretching out each moment until breaking point and then some.
Each car and its occupants arrive on the screen moments before they perish in a smoking, screeching pile-up. After the final screech of metal and burning rubber on flesh, there is a twist that makes the whole sequence begin again.
I saw the movie in a theatre full of teenagers late on a Saturday night. As each gory death was succeeded by the next, the audience would howl with delight, collectively groaning with glee as yet another character bit the dust.
It occurred to me that the makers of Final Destination 2 knew their audience very well. They know that, in some contexts, there is a thin line between horror and comedy.