Final Destination 2 (3.5 out of 5) Call it a guilty pleasure... What a novel conceit: take exactly what's wrong with modern horror movies (i.e. boredom and predictability) and flip the proverbial script on 'em. Those who (correctly) gripe that the Friday the 13th and Halloween sequels are nothing more than rote assembly line carnage-fests should find their complaints allayed here: the beauty of the Final Destination flicks is that anyone can die at any time - and often do. Imagine my utter surprise at the entertainment value of a Final Destination 2. Here we have an unplanned sequel to a surprise hit. Add to that the fact that we're talking about America-based horror merchants (who, for the most part, have no balls whatsoever) doling out the sequel, and let's just say that things weren't looking good for this one. I did my normal mental checklist throughout the film: Acting: almost uniformly bad. Script: muddled beyond measure in some spots, surprisingly clever in others. Direction: fantastic in the "kill shots", pedantic and drab otherwise. In other words, I intended to analyze this one as if it were any other flick, be it Fellini or Fincher. Apparently my funny bone overcame my critic's brain, because I found myself squirming, laughing, and hooting along with the rest of the moviegoing masses. I was easily able to overlook the glaring plot holes and intermittently atrocious acting and simply enjoy the more...visceral moments on display. To those unfamiliar with the original entry, the 'hook' of the FD flicks is simply this: Death is one poor sport, and should his next victims unwittingly discover a way to avoid his touch - the reaper roars back with a vengeance, resulting in some sinfully goopy dispatches. All in all, cool horror junk for cool horror fans. The first flick featured a cadre of high school students who were (un)lucky enough to disembark from an ill-fated airliner - only to be picked off later in elaborately nasty ways. Part 2 has its eventual victims avoid a horrific highway accident - only to be picked off later in elaborately nasty ways. What most impressed me about this follow-up (aside from the frequent moments of gory good fun) is the way in which the original film was referenced. There's a fantastic little scene in which all the soon-to-be-dead realize that they each have a tenuous connection to the victims from Part 1, and in a sea of 'in-name-only / ignore all prior entries' sequels, one that takes the time to tie itself to its source is worthy of a little pat on the back. The cast is a collection of pretty faces (for the most part), none of whom will leave all that much of an impression. Returing from the original is the long-suffering Ali Larter (who becomes the Linda Hamilton of the FD series) and Tony Todd, as a mortician who mumbles ominously for precisely one throwaway scene. Plot-wise...why would you even ask? Death wants these poor slobs dead, and we're invited to watch. Isn't that enough? OK, you caught me; I'm avoiding the main plot because A) it's silly and B) it makes very little sense. It's got something to do with the order of the intended deaths and a lot of malarkey about one gal's unborn baby. If the baby is born before everyone's dead, then death's curse is broken andzzzzzzzzzzz... Like I said, it doesn't really matter. People go to see fireworks for the light show, not for a thought-provoking lecture on the history of colored gun powder. Does Final Destination 2 deliver the gory goods? Absolutely, and then some. The initial car pile-up is staggeringly cool to behold, as are a few other extended moments of impending death - none of which I'll come close to divulging here. Let's just say that if a movie were rated solely on its creative moments of icky and intense carnage, this one could be an Oscar nominee. (And a very small and seemingly stupid moment of praise: THANKS for not saddling this enjoyable little flick with a moronic subtitle like Final Destination 2: More Finaler! We horror fans hate that crap.) The original may be a slightly better film, more finely structured and a bit more crafty - but the sequel doesn't offer Devon Sawa in the lead role, and in many ways that makes Part 2 considerably more entertaining.