When James Wong’s ‘Final Destination’ premiered in 2000 at the dawn of the millennium, it was destined to be a celebrated horror franchise. As a horror extravaganza in the post-slasher age, it had all the telltale signs of greatness — a brilliant premise that plays with free will and predestination, a silly teen ambiance, and more stomach-churning death scenes than you can take.
From 2000 to 2011, the series has spawned five movies, with a sixth one slated for a 2022 release. However, while two decades have passed following the first film’s release, fans still cannot get enough of the gore. We still wonder whether the stories are based on actual events, and if the thought has crossed your mind, let us spark off an investigation.
Are Final Destination Movies Based on Real Life?
The ‘Final Destination’ movies are partially based on true events. However, the premise of death chasing survivors after their near-death experience lies in the realm of fiction. You would be astonished to know that the first movie was based on an episode in the supernatural drama series ‘The X-Files.’ James Wong directed the first movie from a story ideated by Jeffrey Reddick. Reddick took the crux of the story, particularly from the episode titled ‘Flight 180,’ which was scripted by Chris Carter.
The central concept of the ‘The X-Files’ episode had the same basic premise as the movie: that of a group of teens cheating death. A fan theory surfaced following the ‘Final Destination’ premiere. Some fans thought the plane crash to be inspired by the TWA Flight 800 explosion. However, Carter wrote the episode in 1994, while the aviation tragedy took place later in 1996. Therefore, we can ditch the theory, But some of the later movies of the series may have been based on actual events.
The highway accident that sparks off the story of ‘Final Destination 2’ is seemingly based on an actual incident that took place in March 2002 in Ringgold, Georgia. The infamous “125-car pileup” case on a foggy interstate highway claimed four lives. Thirty-nine people were left injured in the middle of the road. The race track massacre of ‘The Final Destination’ reminds us of the Le Mans motor race disaster at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 11, 1955. As debris from the car crash flew into the gallery, the incident killed 83 people, including spectators, while more than 180 were injured.
The accident on the bridge in ‘Final Destination 5,’ on the other hand, was perhaps inspired by the visceral 1940 collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington. The short-lived suspension bridge was opened for traffic on July 1, 1940. It collapsed on November 7 of the same year under the pressure of a gust of wind. Therefore, although the stories are not entirely true, they are inspired by real-life events which were as creepy, if not more. Other than that, the stories follow a simple formula – a group of frolicking friends escapes a disaster thanks to one in the group having a premonition. The following story chronicles the deaths of those who survive the killer spectacle of the early moments.
You would be interested to know that the central characters in each movie are named after legends of horror cinema. For instance, the four main characters of the first film, Alex Browning, Billy Hitchcock, Larry Murnau, and Black Dreyer, were all named after masterful horror filmmakers Tod Browning, Alfred Hitchcock, F.W. Murnau, and Carl Theodor Dryer. The naming is an easter egg dutifully repeated in later movies.
But what makes the series entertaining is perhaps the elaborate and unexpected ways people die. Some of these deaths may also be inspired by actual events. For example, in ‘The Final Destination,’ the character of Hunt probably dies the most horrific death. He jumps into the pool hoping to retrieve the dropped penny. As he gets plunged into the broken pump inlet, his intestines get gutted. The scene may be inspired by a short story called ‘Guts’ by Chuck Palahniuk, the celebrated author of ‘Fight Club.’
However, there was a similar real-life situation in 2007, where a young girl had the same tragic fate. Her bowels, liver, and pancreas were transplanted by surgery. However, there were complications, which led to her death a year later. ‘The Final Destination,’ the fourth movie of the franchise, is different in many aspects. It is the first 3D venture from the franchise and the only film in the series that was not filmed in Canada. It is also the only one where Tony Todd, the actor behind Bludworth (the mortician thought to be an incarnation of the devil), does not appear.
In the first film, he makes a case about the absoluteness of death. Moving on to the second, Clear Rivers goes for his consultation. He also voices the “Devil’s Flight” ride sequence in ‘Final Destination 3’ and comes back in the franchise’s fifth film. He would be part of the fourth installment as well but could not due to a scheduling clash with ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.’ However, considering all the aspects, it seems that there is more truth to these macabre stories than one can imagine.
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