My heart starts racing, I hold my breath, I sit on the edge of my seat and then comes the inevitable scream, followed by a laugh of relief and hysteria. Scary movies are fun, being scared is fun. Being scared with your friends is even better. Fear is a strange emotion and I decided to do a little experiment using my friends (little did they know) as lab rats. So, I dragged them on (duh duh dah...gasp) The Return of the Super Spooky Double Feature.
On a dark and dreary day in February, I, the mad Doctor Kasenstien escorted my group consisting of two boys, the not so susceptible to fear, and two other girls, the very (very, very, extremely) susceptible to fear to Final Destination 2 and Darkness Falls.
The first test in my experiment was Final Destination 2, the sequel to Final Destination (2000). As the movie starts, a group of teens prepare to go on a road trip. It could be the start of any other teen movie until Kimberly Corman (A.J. Cook, The Virgin Suicides) has a premonition in which her group and many other travelers are killed in a violent highway pileup. She thinks she has stopped a handful of them from being killed, but did she really? Later that day, a man who Corman saved is killed in a freak accident. Corman begins to wonder if a situation similar to that of the Flight 180 survivors (Final Destination) is at hand. Is death again coming to tie up loose ends?
After close observation of my test subjects, I found that a viewer does not need to have seen Final Destination to enjoy Final Destination 2. The writers (Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber) do an excellent job filling new viewers in from the very beginning. Seeing the original helps but is not necessary. Final Destination 2 is a wonderfully made film. It is executed with what appears to be extreme care. I have noticed that with horror sequels, the film's continuity and believability drastically drop. However, this film holds together strongly. The ending is a little bit of a stretch, but the rest of the movie makes up for it. As for the fear factor, this film doesn't really scare as much as it grosses out. Even the boys were covering their eyes. If the viewer is squeamish, either stay home or keep hands poised and ready. I give this film a four out of five.
The next test was on Darkness Falls, another story of an urban legend run amuck. A long time ago in the small town of Darkness Falls, there lived an old woman who loved little children very much. She would give them coins in return for their baby teeth and they loved her very much in return (can you say bribery?). One day, however, the old woman's house burned down and she was burned very badly all over her face and body. Any light hurt the poor woman's skin and she was forced to always wear a porcelain mask and only could go out at night. The children soon grew afraid of the old woman. One day, two little boys didn't come home and the whole town blamed the woman. As they hanged her, she cursed the town pledging that what she used to take out of love, she would forever more take out of hate. The next day the boys were found, safe and sound. The small town buried their dark secret...until she came back to haunt them.
Bottom line, this film is not scary at all. However, my studies have shown that this is only true if the viewer does not cover their eyes. The female subjects did and were terrified. The male subjects and I (Dr. Kasenstein) did not and realized that the "monster" is like a cross between Michael Myers and the "Scream" killer, but it can fly. This is not scary, I promise. It's not worth moviegoers ticket money and only earned two out of five screams.
So, after close study of my little rats...err...friends, I have found that perhaps it is the fear of the unknown that makes stupid movies like Darkness Falls frightening and the reality of our own mortality that makes films like Final Destination 2 creepy. In the meantime, if you are looking for a good thriller, check out Final Destination 2 but don't waste your time on Darkness Falls.