How 'Final Destination 2' Became the Root of My Anxiety (2023)

We all have that one movie we simply saw too young. Ones we saw while flicking through channels or ones we snuck into the player when everyone else was asleep. For me, that movie is Final Destination 2. Of course, I’m not alone in that, as pretty much anyone you ask will agree that Final Destination 2 affected them in some way. Most notably, that scene is the opening disaster with the logging truck. And while that is most definitely on my list, it’s the entire movie that crawls under my skin and is the scariest in the series to me.

RELATED: How 'Final Destination' Started Life as an 'X-Files' Episode

The Final Destination franchise is known for its campy films and ridiculous deaths, but the second film leans a bit more into realism — well, as realistic as a movie about death chasing people down can be. For that reason, I credit Final Destination 2 as being the root of my anxiety — and it goes far beyond just the logging truck.

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The Highway Sequence

Driving on the highway is scary enough on its own, with the high speeds and constant business, so for this movie to play off that fear and add a new fear on top of it is just plain cruel. And it’s a universal experience too: everyone I’ve talked to has brought up this scene before, and someone goes viral by posting a picture of a logging truck every few months, so you’d think by now we’d all be a little desensitized to it. Wrong.

I truly do believe my driving anxiety stems in some part from this movie. It doesn’t matter who I’m with, if I’m on the highway and end up behind or near a logging truck, I’m making sure we get the hell out of the way — and if I’m not the one driving you best believe I’m chewing out whoever is until they get us out of the way of potential catastrophe. The second I see one of those trucks it’s like I’m sucked into one of the film’s classic premonitions and immediately start to see all the things that could go wrong. A stray branch on the road, a rickety-looking car, you name it, I notice it.

And it’s not just the logging truck, it’s everything. The thought of a piece of piping flying through the windshield, or a rogue tire hurtling through the air. It’s the startling realism of the scene that makes it so unnerving, and while I can appreciate a good horror, this scene will never not be a source of deep-rooted anxiety and fear for me. But perhaps that’s what solidified it as such a well-done horror flick.

Tim’s Visit to the Dentist

As I said, it isn’t just the logging truck and highway catastrophe that freak me out in this movie, there’s another scene involving a boy named Tim (James Kirk) and the dentist that always gets my pulse racing — even though I know that isn’t what ultimately gets him. I don’t have a general fear of the dentist, I’m fine going in for cleanings or routine checkups, and while I’m not crazy about getting dental work done, I can do it. The one thing that’s always on my mind while I’m there though is “what if they drop a tool down my throat?” And yes, I know it’s ridiculous and has not happened to this day, but it’s still a legitimate fear of mine that this film only further fuels.

Sure the dentist doesn’t actually drop a tool in his mouth — though he does a million other things that are enough to make me squirm in my seat. But something in a similar vein does happen and when it does, I can’t help but sit and panic no matter how many times I watch the scene and know how it plays out. As Tim is laying in the chair, laughing gas on and slowly losing consciousness due to it, one of the toy fish attached to a mobile above him falls down and into his mouth. With no one else in the room, we’re forced to watch as he panics and begins to suffocate due to the damned thing — and since he’s looped up on the laughing gas he can’t quite get his bearings about him to pull it out of his mouth himself. Thankfully he’s rescued just in time, but the scene goes on long enough to make me want to tap out, and added on to all the other close calls, it's a horrific scene all around.

Nora Vs. Elevator

Ok listen, elevators are scary, and I won’t let anyone tell me differently. I can ride in them with little problem, but there’s always a small piece of me that thinks “what if?” What if the cables break and the elevator goes plummeting? What if it gets stuck between floors? What if my sleeve gets caught in the doors? That’s exactly what this movie taps into and I hate it. As if all the other things we’ve seen weren’t enough, the filmmakers decided to add a freaky elevator scene on top of it.

The scene in question follows Tim’s mom Nora (Lynda Boyd) as she boards an elevator alongside a man with a box of prosthetics. In a panic of being told she may be the next to die, she gets her hair caught on one of the prosthetic hooks, and in the chaos, as the patrons try to get her hair removed from it, her head gets caught between the elevator doors. The kicker? It was earlier shown that the doors are faulty, meaning it doesn’t matter if something is stuck between them, you’re going to have a hell of a time getting unstuck, and unfortunately, that’s the case for Nora. Despite her pleas of not wanting to die and everyone trying to save her, she’s decapitated in a terrifying and gruesome fashion. Sure the scene is wholly unrealistic but if you have a fear of elevators to begin with, or even just have small “what ifs?” about them, then it doesn’t quite matter if it’s realistic or not. It’s a damn scary scene and I won’t hear anything different!

The Entire Franchise

Final Destination 2 may be the specific film in the franchise that scares me the most, but honestly? The franchise in its entirety has always made me feel uneasy. As someone who’s superstitious, I’ve always felt like this franchise would bring me bad mojo, and perhaps a fate like those in the movie. I always thought that if I watched one of them I’d be hunted down by death and given some wildly gruesome, almost laughable, death. And I know that sounds ridiculous, but I can’t help it.

Each movie has its own sequence or sequences that make me squirm: from the tanning bed to the escalator to the acupuncture, but none of them compare to the effect Final Destination 2 has on me. Perhaps it’s how rooted in realism most of the deaths feel, whereas some of the other films opt for more shocking, gag-like deaths that aren’t entirely designed to scare so much as they are to make audiences laugh. Or maybe it’s because some of the scenes are based around real fears I have — though I do think those fears stem from this movie to begin with. Either way, Final Destination 2 is a movie that scares me on more levels than just it being a horror movie designed to make you tense. And while I may not be stoked about that, it is slightly impressive just how much it affects me, despite the number of horror films I’ve watched in my lifetime.

Moral of the story? I'll be avoiding highways any chance I get, will be on high alert whenever I’m at the dentist, and will be taking the stairs if possible.

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