The Final Destination franchise has been a huge part of post-Millennium horror cinema since the first film was released in 2000.
Each film in the franchise follows a series of, often photogenic, teens as they are slowly picked off by Death after escaping their original fate by virtue of a fortunate premonition. The premise is simple – no one can cheat death.
Increasingly, it is the elaborate death sequences that have come to define the franchise. For many fans, the plot is nothing more than a sideshow as it is the highly choreographed and stylised flourishes of violence that keep audiences coming to the cinema. The five films have made in excess of $600m at the global box office* and another sequel seems almost inevitable.
So, in celebration of one of cinema’s splatteriest series, here are the ten most ridiculous deaths in the history of Final Destination.
10. Decapitating debris (Final Destination, 2000)
The first of the Final Destination films is noticeably more subdued than its sequels. However, there’s a clear dose of ridiculousness on show in the way the film dispatches Billy, played by American Pie star Seann William Scott.
The remaining survivors of Flight 180 find themselves stranded on a railway track, with a speeding train only moments away. They manage to avert a disastrous crash, but, as the train passes, it picks up a small piece of metal from the ground. Billy, hysterical after the accident, fails to notice as the metal flies towards him from behind, decapitating him.
9. Weights (Final Destination 3, 2006)
In one of the most brutal death sequences in the Final Destination series, the third film‘s arrogant jock Lewis meets an incredibly sticky end at the gym.
After analysing photographs from the day of the rollercoaster accident, protagonists Wendy and Ken have determined that Lewis is the next to die in Death’s plan. They rush to the gym, where he proclaims that he is invincible, right up until the moment his head is crushed by a set of weights.
8. Gymnastics (Final Destination 5, 2011)
After the remarkably cartoonish fourth franchise entry, The Final Destination, something very special needed to happen for the series to get back on its initially creative feet. Thankfully, Final Destination 5 and its delightfully silly set pieces were just what the doctor ordered.
Having survived the deadly bridge collapse at the film’s opening, Candice is at gymnastics practice. A tense sequence of potential calamities culminates in her falling from the uneven bars, gruesomely snapping her spine in half.
7. Dentist (Final Destination 2, 2003)
Generally considered the high watermark of the series, Final Destination 2 is great at crafting its elaborate death sequences. The demise of youngster Tim, though, is nothing short of ridiculous.
Tim’s death is preceded by a liberal number of red herrings. First, he almost chokes whilst sat in the dentist’s chair, with water running onto an electrical cable also causing problems. But what finishes him off is a large pane of glass falling from a crane, squashing him in unintentionally hilarious fashion.
6. Tanning (Final Destination 3, 2006)
In one of the most memorable sequences from Final Destination 3, air-headed best friends Ashley and Ashlyn prove the dangers of using sunbeds.
Blissfully unaware that Death has them on his proverbial list, the two women decide to head to the tanning salon. As they strip for some gratuitous horror film nudity, they put on some music just loud enough that no one can hear their later screams. They settle in, but a loose shelf tumbles onto the sunbeds, holding them shut and condemning Ashley and Ashlyn to a fiery fate.
5. Laser eye surgery (Final Destination 5, 2011)
There’s something about eyes that makes people very squeamish indeed. That’s why the opening scene of 1929 silent film Un Chien Andalou is still talked about today.
In Final Destination 5, Olivia is visiting the doctor for laser eye surgery. Whilst the doctor is outside, the laser begins to malfunction, burning her eye. She escapes from the machine just as the film’s protagonists run in, but they are unable to stop her falling through the window and onto the windscreen of a car below, dislodging her undamaged eye completely.
4. Sign crush (Final Destination 3, 2006)
The character of McKinley in Final Destination 3 is one of the slimiest, least likeable characters in the entire franchise. It is that which makes his eventual death such a satisfying, if silly, moment.
Driven crazy by the death of his girlfriend, Erin, McKinley corners the film’s protagonists at a celebration event. Just as he shouts his invicibility, an enormous sign collapses onto him, dismembering his body, leaving him to perform one final, sweary salute.
3. Acupuncture (Final Destination 5, 2011)
As one of the series’ trademark “series of unfortunate events” death sequences, the gruesome fate of Isaac in Final Destination 5 ranks pretty highly. It’s an intricate rollercoaster ride of red herrings, leading to a darkly comedic pay-off. It’s an obscenely lengthy, highly uncomfortable, scene.
Isaac is the fifth film’s resident sleazeball. His end comes after he racially abuses his acupuncturist, who leaves him full of needles. It takes a broken table, a raging fire and eventually a statue of Buddha to finish him off in gory fashion.
2. Barbed wire (Final Destination 2, 2003)
Rory is an enjoyable character in Final Destination 2. He is more interested in smoking pot and cracking jokes than he is in working out how to survive death’s plan.
Following a car accident that leaves several people dead, Rory is stood in a neighbouring area of the field. A lit cigarette falls from the hand of another character, triggering a chain reaction that sends a barbed wire fence hurtling towards Rory, slicing him into three segments.
1. Swimming pool (The Final Destination, 2009)
Fourth film The Final Destination is, without doubt, the most ridiculous entry in the series. The visuals are cartoonish and there’s an extra layer of insanity to the death sequences, with Hunt’s end at the swimming pool taking the cake.
Whilst Hunt is working at a swimming pool, he drops his lucky coin and dives in to retrieve it. He finds himself being sucked to the bottom by the pool’s drain and, after a few moments of struggling, his insides are sucked out and blasted out of the drainage system in an explosion that looks awfully like a child’s drink.
That’s the kind of gore effect that leads to nearly $200m* at the global box office… apparently.
Do you agree with this list? What are your favourite moments from the Final Destination franchise? Let me know in the comments section.
* Figures correct as of 26th January 2015, courtesy of Box Office Mojo.