Final Destination opened on March 17th, 2000 with a first weekend gross of over 10 million dollars. The film depicted the terrifying tale of a group of high school students who are prompted to get off Flight 180 before takeoff after one of them has a terrifying vision that the plane will explode in flight - a premonition that comes tragically to life before their eyes. Despite having seemingly cheated fate, the students were meant to die in the flight, and the shadowy presence of Death begins stalking them as one by one they meet sudden and brutal ends. Those still left alive are forced to band together to try and change the course of destiny and outwit the untamable forces of Death…a struggle that is ultimately lost by all but one of the students, Clear Rivers (Ali Larter).
Due largely in part to the positive audience word-of-mouth centered around its series of unique and jolting thrills, Final Destination went on to gross 53. 3 million theatrically in the U. S. before enjoying a very successful home video life.
Producer Craig Perry describes Final Destination 2 as a thrill ride which steps up the action, fear and comedic elements that made the first film such a popular and lasting hit. "This film builds upon the notion that death is all around us," he says. "Both Final Destination films tap into that universal fear. Death could be in your car or your bathroom! The conceit is not so otherworldly that it stays on the movie screen. It follows you home. "
"You can't predict exactly when it's going to happen or where Death is coming from, or even who it's coming for," adds director David R. Ellis, whose accomplished career as a sought-after second unit director led him to helm Homeward Bound II and, now, Final Destination 2. "You don't know how Death is going to manifest itself. "
Rising star A. J. Cook plays Kimberly Corman, who is struggling to deal with the death of her mother when she foresees a cataclysmic and deadly highway pileup that soon becomes a shocking reality. For the group of strangers who were meant to die in the accident but whose deaths were prevented by Kimberly's warning, it's left for them to figure out both why they survived and what they can do to stay alive once it becomes clear that Death is coming back to claim them one by one. "Kimberly is stuck in the middle of all this and doesn't know why she is the one having premonitions," comments Cook. "A year earlier, she lost her mother and through that trauma has become stronger, so she is determined not to let Death win. "
Kimberly is also aware of the stories about the survivors of Flight 180. "She's aware of the circumstances that prompted them to get off the plane before it crashed, as well as the fates that all but one of them suffered, and she knows what's going to happen with all the survivors of the Route 23 pileup who cheated Death," Cook explains. "So she seeks out Clear Rivers, who is the only survivor of Flight 180, for answers and for help. "
Ali Larter notes that Clear is not the same person as she was in the first film. "She has gotten to a hardened place," comments Larter. "She has tucked herself inside because she has felt so much pain in her life. By having herself committed to the mental hospital, she has created a safehouse so that Death can't get to her. So when Kimberly comes to see her and asks for help, it's as if everything she thought was true about Death's plan is tossed out the window. "
But Kimberly does not find an eager accomplice in Clear. "When Kimberly first seeks her out, Clear gives her loads of attitude and tells her that she might as well check herself into a padded room if she wants to survive," says Cook. "But Kimberly doesn't give up so easily. "
Kimberly also finds support in Officer Thomas Burke, played by Michael Landes, the rookie cop who rescues Kimberly from the highway crash and comes to believe her surreal story. "She has a connection to Flight 180 and so does my character," explains Landes, noting that the character's backstory includes being on the scene of the death of the Billy Hitchcock character in the original film. "Now, when it comes up again, Michael follows her into this journey of trying to make sense of what they've seen. Michael and Kimberly are both drawn to the same things. "
"Kimberly provides Clear and Thomas with the information that she doesn't know what to do with," comments producer Craig Perry. "Clear is able to interpret that information, and Thomas is able to act on it. So, they form an interesting triangle that works in concert to figure this thing out. "
Surrounding this core is a handful of strangers tied to Kimberly through the freeway accident. Jonathan Cherry plays the drug-addled Rory, who is initially dismissive of Clear's theories about "cheating death" but becomes a believer when others in the group start dying. "Rory's arc goes from, 'I don't really care at all', to 'Oh my God, this is really happening,'" says Cherry.
Keegan Connor Tracy plays the aggressive corporate executive, Kat, who sees the events following the highway accident as an inconvenience. "She doesn't really buy it at first," says Tracy. "But pretty soon even her cynical attitude can't ignore the truth of the situation they're all in. "
T. C Carson plays the hip, motorcycle-riding schoolteacher Eugene Dix, who also is a skeptic. "He thinks it's a bunch of garbage," says Carson. "Eugene is a very by-the-book type of person. But he soon has a change of heart as the corpses begin to pile up. "
Rounding out the cast is Lynda Boyd, who plays widow Nora Carpenter, harried, suburban mother to her teenage son Tim. Also skeptical of Kimberly and her premonition, Nora becomes a believer when her son is killed in a gruesome accident.
With Clear's help, Kimberly and the group set out to decode and ultimately circumvent Death's agenda. "Clear doesn't want to trust anybody and she doesn't want to promise anything because she's in no position to," notes Ali Larter. "She does not know what will happen to any of them. But at some point she realizes she has to put herself on the line even more and try to protect Kimberly and the others. And she doesn't know if she can fulfill her promise to keep them safe. "
What they discover is that each has a connection to the deaths of the characters featured in the first Final Destination. "This story is about Death coming back to clean up its mistakes," comments David R. Ellis. "There are some people that were tied into Flight 180 that Death wanted to come after and didn't get. And now it's coming back to clean that up. All of these people are somehow related to Flight 180. And it's their time. So Death is coming to get them, and they have no clue that they're part of Death's plan. "
"This film is about that weird, prickly feeling that something's not right in the universe and if you don't tread carefully, you're gone," notes Craig Perry. "The dentist's office, a hospital, getting your hand stuck in a garbage disposal…all of these events and places freak people out. Add Death to the mix and you've got great, scary set pieces for a movie. "
Bringing director Ellis into the mix was an easy choice. According to Perry, "David is the perfect director for this movie because of his experience directing some of the most memorable action sequences of the last fifteen years. Moreover, he had a very clear vision of how to approach the tone, by effectively balancing scares with a dark streak of humor. " To inject this sensibility, Ellis spent four months developing the script with the writers and producers.
Ellis brings over thirty years of production experience as a stuntman and second unit director to Final Destination 2. "I want this to be a non-stop thrill ride," says Ellis. "The first film is terrific, but with every sequel you try to make it better than the original. We tried to pattern the sequences in such a way that they would have as much shock value as possible without being hokey. " But he quickly points out, "the action isn't carrying the film, the story is, and we have great action surrounding that story. And some great death sequences!" Perry agrees: "the writers came up with the most twisted, sick, depraved, yet very creative and entertaining ways to dispatch people off this earth. "
Writers Eric Bress & J. Mackye Gruber did not want to limit themselves to a re-hash of the first film. Says Bress, "We wanted to take what the first film did effectively, and add levels and layers that would come out through the characters. When we first started writing this, we were trying to think, 'how can we make Death just a total badass?' And to be perfectly honest, the first crack we ever took at this script had to be reined in!" But it was working with director David R. Ellis that offered the most opportunities. "David created an atmosphere where input was welcomed," says Bress. "He looks at filmmaking as a collaborative art form and that is the single greatest experience of this film to me as a writer. " Working on Final Destination 2 provided a refreshing change of pace for the writers. "The people behind this film - the producers and the director - are the coolest people you could ever hope to work with in this industry. "
Ali Larter returns to lead the ensemble cast in her role as Clear Rivers, the only survivor from the first film. Admitting she was hesitant to return to a role she played three years ago, Larter was won over by the script and director David R. Ellis. "He's incredible," she says. "He maintains this light, fun set, even though it's a supernatural thriller!" Larter was also drawn back to the character because "There are two lead female characters, and there aren't that many movies for women where they're this strong and feisty," she enthuses.
The cast and producers agree that filming with David R. Ellis proved to be a fabulous working experience. "He has a real grasp of technical things but is also good about giving you specific and insightful direction," remarks Keegan Connor Tracy. Michael Landes adds, "This is a real comfortable environment, and it's because of David, who's like the quarterback of all this. " Craig Perry agrees, "We wanted someone with his expertise on board. It's a very technically complicated movie, and the wealth of experience David brought with him was a huge asset. And when you add the level of positive energy he brings to the set, it just makes the entire shoot a lot of fun. "
Casting was key as the filmmakers wanted people from all walks of life grouped together to confront Death. Says writer Eric Bress, "This time it's not just a bunch of high school kids. It's people from all walks of life: a woman and her teenage son, a crystal meth freak, a schoolteacher, a cop. It's not just another 'dead teenager movie. '" Craig Perry agrees that "it's a bunch of people who would never be in the same room together suddenly finding themselves having to work together, despite their differences, to overcome this thing that's coming after them. "
A. J. Cook clearly stood out as the strongest candidate for the part of Kimberly, says David R. Ellis. "She has great range and could do all the emotional stuff, and yet she's very strong when her character needed to be. " T. C. Carson, who plays Eugene, has "a great presence" says Ellis, and Jonathan Cherry "totally captures the essence of Rory, especially his humor and vulnerability. " Keegan Connor Tracy's character is the polar opposite of Rory, which leads to the inevitable "sparks… and I'm not talking romantic sparks," adds Perry. "Everyone's really fun," says A. J. Cook. "With thrillers, there's just something fun about them. You get to be scared and run around like an action star!"
Final Destination 2 hopes to maintain and build upon the action and special effects standards set in the first film. For Freddie Hice, third generation stuntman and stunt coordinator on the film, his goal was to exceed the action from the first film. The biggest stunt challenge from his perspective was setting up the highway crash sequence that opens the film. With at least eight car wrecks and twenty-two stunt people, safety on the set was a priority. "This picture doesn't have what I would call big, explosive stunts. They're a series of beats where people get killed - tricky for sure, but not outrageous," he explains. All the actors were gung-ho to do as much stunt work as they could, which makes Hice smile. "They're young, made of rubber and it only hurts for a little while then it goes away," he says. "I love it when they let me do stunts," adds A. J. Cook. "It makes the day so much more interesting!"
As the characters try to escape their fate, they learn the hard way that death doesn't forget. There may be a few detours, but in the end, everyone has the same Final Destination.
The film was shot in and around the Greater Vancouver area, including Campbell River on Vancouver Island.