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16. Final Destination 2 (2003)

Director: David R. Ellis
Stars: A.J. Cook, Ali Larter, Michael Landes, Jonathan Cherry, Keegan Connor Tracy, Terrence “T.C.” Carson, David Paetkau, Justina Machado

It’s difficult to imagine today, now that we’re five movies deep into the increasingly absurd, yet shamelessly entertaining, franchise, but Final Destination (2000) took itself very seriously. And, in spots, director James Wong’s series-starter utilizes that stone-faced veneer to its advantage—just not often enough. The concept of Death preying on folks who’ve cheated its life-ending plans is inherently absurd, and the unseen killer’s methods of destruction gradually amplify in audience disbelief.

Once director David R. Ellis stepped into the arena, the set-up's opportunities for black comedy were nicely realized. Final Destination 2, Ellis’ lighter and nuttier sequel, stages its bloody death scenes as morbid punchlines, a formula that’s been employed by subsequent Final Destination with mixed results; Ellis and screenwriters Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, on the other hand, nailed it. Just try not to laugh when a drawn-out sequence inside a dentist’s office ends with a humungous plate glass crushing a dumbass kid who’s pointlessly harassing pigeons.

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