Goretober: does science justify your favorite horror scenes?

Lucille DiNaro – Business Manager

Final Destination 3 James Wong 2006

The death of Erin Ulmer in the Final Destination series was not unexpected, but the manner of her death certainly was. In this film, Erin accidentally stumbles against a nail gun that was carelessly left on a stack of boxes by her boyfriend Ian. Upon hitting the nailgun, it begins to rapidly discharge, puncturing Erin with several nails to both her head and her hand, making Erin the fifth survivor of the Devil’s Flight roller coaster to perish.

Erin most likely suffered from internal brain hemorrhaging and massive blood loss. Brain hemorrhaging is the result of an artery of the brain bursting, which causes intense swelling of the brain and localized bleeding in the surrounding tissues. Often, a brain hemorrhage is the result of a stroke, aneurysm, head trauma or tumor.

While some people are able to survive a brain hemorrhage, Erin has little to no real-world possibility of survival. The ability of a person to survive such a trauma is reliant on the size of the hemorrhage and the amount of swelling. In Erin’s case, the multiple wounds she sustains would require immediate attention if she were to have any chance at survival.

The Final Destination franchise certainly loves to toy with impalement, and Erin’s death is no exception.

Final Destination 5 Steven Quale 2011

Candice Hooper’s death in this film has been described as one of the most disturbing scenes of the Final Destination series. While practicing on the uneven bars, Candice’s vision is blurred after one of her fellow gymnasts accidentally blows chalk into the air. Rather than slowing down and dismounting the bar, Candice attempts to execute a tkachev and suffers a fatal fall, her spine snapped on impact.

People love watching the olympics because they illustrate the awesome power and ability of the human body. Through this scene, Quale reminds us that no matter how adept the athlete, death is not exclusive.

Samir Said, a French gymnast who competed in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, almost suffered a similar fate, when a faulty dismount resulted in his leg being broken and bent in the opposite direction. While these bone-jarring impacts are common for gymnasts, one would be wrong to assume that these injuries often result in death. Rather, they are quite the abnormality.

Candice likely suffered from a manubriosternal dislocation, an injury in which the body of the sternum is displaced, often the result of direct trauma. In 2007, only four years prior to the movie release, only 10 cases of manubriosternal dislocation have been described. As such, medical professionals have yet to establish a standardized operative procedure for the injury. However, both external rehabilitation and invasive surgical procedures have been utilized for treatment purposes.

While long term effects of manubriosternal dislocation include chronic pain, periarticular calcification and progressive deformity, the injury is certainly not fatal, and this should come to no surprise. Generally, harmful injuries do not result from high velocity, but from high acceleration. In this particular scene, Candice is accelerating at a relatively normal rate. It is very likely that she would sustain an injury given the circumstances of the scene, but much to the chagrin of Final Destination fans, it is probable that Candice would live to see another day.