I was 13 when the first Final Destination movie came out and had already established myself a fan of the horror genre, so of course I saw it as soon as possible. I loved the gory deaths, I loved the twists and the near-miss fakeouts, and I loved Ali Larter’s Clear Rivers in a way my deeply closeted brain couldn’t quite comprehend. I also loved (and still love) that as the franchise goes on, there are references to past and future events in the franchise. Clever stuff. Bonus? Suddenly I felt more justified in my anxiety. I had known there were dangers lurking everywhere, and these movies just proved my point. I don’t think I was thinking anything deeper about the inevitably of death, but I was a kid who was always afraid my basic bronchitis was tuberculosis and who wouldn’t dive into a swimming pool, no matter how deep, for fear of breaking my neck.
That said, as much as I felt vindicated by the proof that literally anything can kill you if Death wants it badly enough, some of the deaths in this franchise haunted me long after I saw them and gave me brand new fears.
So without further ado, here are 10 accidents from the Final Destination franchise that altered my brain chemistry. (A keen eye might notice these are only from the first four movies in the franchise, but that’s because I didn’t see 5 until last week, so my brain chemistry hasn’t had time to be altered. That said, I won’t be getting laser eye surgery any time soon.)
The Log Truck™️
Now, I’m starting with this one because actually this one altered the brain chemistry of an entire generation…and then some. You’d be hard-pressed to find a millennial willing to drive behind one of these bad boys, and I’d bet it has become such a well-known fear that even people who have never seen the second Final Destination are wary of these rolling death traps. They would freak me out so much on the highway that even my parents started avoiding being anywhere behind them. The accident this truck was involved with actually also gave me a related fear, which was the water bottle rolling under the brakes. I started driving before a lot of my friends, and I had some hard and soft rules of my car. Hard rules included things like no littering out my window, I will not drive this car until everyone is buckled, and you do not change the radio station when Kelly Clarkson is on. Soft rules included no sudden loud noises, and no tomfoolery with water bottles. JUST IN CASE.
When I was little, I loved rollercoasters. The adrenaline rush was the best, and I would drag my poor dad on ride after ride until I was old enough to go with friends. By the time the third Final Destination movie came out, I was in college, and not frequenting too many rollercoasters. But my friends and I would make the trek to Six Flags New England every summer, and this movie was always setting off sirens in the back of my head. I always triple checked my lap or shoulder bars, even after the attendants did, and I would hold on for dear life. Because the thing is, if something is going to go wrong with the rollercoaster, there is no way for the average rider to notice ahead of time. Scary! I think I’m too old and too aware of my own mortality at this point to go on rollercoasters anymore, and this scene did not help.
I know the odds are low that I will ever get my hair caught on a box of mannequin parts and be stuck half in and half out of an elevator whose bumpers are broken so the elevator goes anyway and cuts my head clean off. But the chances aren’t ZERO. Living in New York, you encounter a good number of elevators on a regular basis and an even larger number of people carrying around weird shit, is all I’m saying.
Fire Escape Ladder Malfunction
Speaking of things you encounter a lot in New York: fire escapes. I don’t even know if it’s physically possible for the retractable ladder to fall fast enough to impale a person, but I’m not about to find out. I’m always on the lookout for falling air conditioners anyway, so I take care not to walk directly under fire escape ladders in the city.
This also might be a problem encountered more often (but not exclusively) in big cities, but I have always had upstairs neighbors and have almost exclusively lived in pre-war buildings, and I am always slightly worried about the ceiling structure. In the movie, the ceiling collapses specifically because a tub overflowed on the floor above, which is something I was worried was happening recently when my bathroom ceiling started slowly caving in. Every shower between the first sign of structural damage and my super fixing it felt like a roll of the dice. How structurally sound could a ceiling/floor be if the upstairs neighbor vacuuming sounds like I’ve been put directly in a blender?
When I was a sophomore in college, my dorm was in Union Square, an area full of high rises crowded together. The building next to mine was under construction, and one day, a crane fell. It smashed a taxi, narrowly missing its passenger and driver, and required us to evacuate our building for a few days so they could make sure nothing else was about to fall. I have been wary of cranes ever since. Which is not helpful since New York City is literally always under construction.
Great Tanning Bed Bake-Off
My senior year of college, I was going to Costa Rica for winter break, and everyone who knew me was afraid my paper-white skin was going to fry that close to the equator if I didn’t get a “base coat” before I left, and since it was winter in Boston by the time anyone expressed this concern to me, my only option was the tanning booth. And I’m not proud of this, but I became mildly addicted to the burst of serotonin I would get from lying in a warm box for 20 minutes. (Or, the adrenaline rush from standing in a hot wind tunnel for 10.) I had already been double-checking that the door to the little room was locked because of I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, but after the second Final Destination movie came out and I watched two girls absolutely bake from getting trapped in a tanning bed, I also made sure to inspect the room for any objects that could fall on top of the tanning bed, any water drippage, or other signs of potential danger. Also it never happened, but if the music playing in the salon had ever been the song “Rollercoaster,” I would have high-tailed it out of there so fast.
Nail Gun Fiasco
I don’t even know if I’ve ever seen a nail gun in real life, and I can’t imagine a scenario where I would be near one, but you better believe if I ever see one of these fuckers, I’m staying the hell away. I’m sure they’re very convenient for people who work in construction, but that is not something that should be within eight feet of someone who bumps into walls in their own apartment.
Train/Lawn Mower Ricochet
To continue on the trend of even more unlikely scenarios I’d find myself in, I was horrified by the ease with which a train and a lawn mower (in movies 1 and 4, respectively) kicked up a random bit of scrap or a rock and KILLED SOMEONE. I’ve never had a lawn big enough for mowing, but my parents are moving to a suburb soon and I will be staying INSIDE if I’m ever there when it’s time to mow the lawn.
Panic! At the Race Track
Have I ever been to a NASCAR race? No, I have not. Will I ever go to one? Literally never. Do I have a deep-in-my-bones fear of getting hit in the face with a rogue tire? Yes, yes I do. Thanks, Final Destination(s)!