The late ’90s were golden years for teenage flicks across several genres – including horror. The Scream franchise, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, The Faculty, and many more films fell into the slasher sub-genre. A black-clad killer gutting an attractive ensemble cast. Final Destination shifted this focus twenty years ago with a terrifying thriller about a deadly premonition that leads to a string of bizarre deaths. The original film, released on March 17, 2000, led to a string of sequels, comic books, and became synonymous with freak accidents. But the most interesting thing about the film was its usage of the number 180 as a signal for something sinister.
Is it just a fun Easter egg or a clever tool to mess with inquisitive minds? Or, does the number 180 have a deeper meaning that fits within the context of Final Destination‘s universe? If the latter question is true, then numerology, a belief system that numbers have a significant meaning and influence in our lives, may have been a driving force in the decision to use this number. Nerdist spoke to three numerology experts to dive deeper into 180 and how it relates to franchise’s themes.
J.J. Michael, a numerologist, tarot card expert, and author of Path to Truth: A Spiritual Memoir, believes the franchise’s creatives likely mixed a bit of fun in with a more intentional message. “Twenty years ago, things are totally different that they are now. Now, you would intentionally use the 180 because more people [familiar with] numerology. But even then it could have happened. I don’t know the writers but if this number is the string that’s pulling the movies all together, then I would say it was intentional.”
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180 In Final Destination – And Life
“With numerology, we try to reduce numbers to a single digit with the exception of master numbers like 11, 22, and 33,” says Briana, a professional numerologist and owner of The Lucky Sage, where she helps people tap into their destinies based on their core numbers. “So, each number one through nine and the master numbers all have a meaning behind them. Whenever we have multiple digits, we add them all together. 180 equals the number nine and nine is the number of endings. It’s like a cycle basically. It could be death or the ending of something or wrapping something up, like a full circle moment. The number nine brings everything to a conclusion.”
Death and what it means to disrupt fate plays a major role throughout the first Final Destination film. In the original flick, Alex, Clear, and a group of their fellow high school classmates board Flight 180 to Paris for a senior trip. Alex experiences travel anxiety and sees the numbers 180 and 810 prior to boarding the plane, but he ignores his instincts.
Things change when he experiences a vivid premonition about the plane exploding in mid-air and killing everyone on board. He snaps out of his vision, the details of his premonition start coming true, he panics, and several of the students leave the plane. The accident happens in front of their eyes and, after a memorial service several weeks later, the survivors start to die in bizarre accidents in the order that they would have perished on the plane.
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Alex and Clear later learn from a very creepy coroner (played by none other than Candyman‘s Tony Todd) that cheating Death’s plan leads to a new cycle of events. Now, the entity is seeking to complete the original plan because no one can escape their destiny or fate.
“Your friend’s departure shows that death has a new design for all of you. Now, you have to figure out how and when it’s coming back at you. Play your hunch Alex if you think you can get away with it. But remember the risk of cheating the plan, of disrespecting the design could incite a fury that could terrorize even the Grim Reaper.” -William Bludworth
Ginni of MysticalPalGinni, who has studied numerology for 15 years along with tarot, Reiki, astrology, and hypnotherapy dives further into the 180’s relationship with completion. “180 degrees is a straight line. It’s half of a circle,” she says. “When you complete that circle it then becomes 360. Three and six equal nine. One and eight equal nine. If [the characters] see 180 and something bad happens, that means one phase of their life and experiences is completed and they are about to begin another.”
The 180 Omens Continue
The use of 180 becomes a key element in each subsequent film. Final Destination 2 features a massive accident at mile marker 180. The film’s protagonist, Kimberly, and the survivors eventually team up with Clear to see if they can cheat Death’s plan. The following film shows several survivors of a rollercoaster tragedy on Train 081, a key for Unit 081, and uses a song called “Turn Around,” which is a metaphor for a person physically doing a 180.
The Final Destination features a speedway accident in section 180 as well as bus with the number 180. And Final Destination 5 is actually a prequel where the two main characters, Sam and Molly, die on Flight 180 from the first movie. It all ties back into the notion of things coming full circle (360) with life and death mirroring each other in the same space.
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Breaking 180 down by each number seems to further confirm that this number was (probably) not a random choice. JJ and Ginni take a deeper look into each individual number’s meaning.
“One is represented by the magician, meaning that it is the beginning of a journey,” J.J. declares. “You have a beginning journey that goes from one to nine…zero is actually the God Force, so whenever you see a zero with a number it means that its carrying extra energy. Then that leaves the number eight. We have 180 but it can be changed around to 018 or 108, whatever. When it comes to eight, that means [the person] has to learn how to be a creator and how to use manifestation and [their] gift as a creator.”
“Zero is the number of completeness,” says Ginni. “One is a number of beginnings. And, eight has two circles. What goes around comes around. That is why it’s the number of karma.” By their explanations, everything has a beginning, an ending, and a series of actions and influence from higher forces that take place in between those two points.”
According to Dictionary.com, the Hindu and Buddist definition of karma is “action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or a reincarnation.” Another meaning for karma is plainly defined as destiny or fate. Karma is certainly present within the franchise’s many protagonists – Alex, Kimberly, Whitney, Sam, Molly – as they make a choice to prevent their visions and cause others to react in certain ways too. They temporarily escape fate but Death reacts to ensure that its grand design is realized by the end of movie.
The Concept of Synchronicity
Alex and Clear make it through the first film but they die in Final Destination 2 – thus completing the circle of Flight 180. A new concept of Death essentially working backwards, thereby doing its own 180, is introduced in this film because all of its survivors had lived through near-death experiences. Interestingly, their survival stories were all related to Flight 180 survivor’s deaths. For example, Kat reveals that she didn’t die at a hotel because the bus she was on hit Terry, a Flight 180 survivor.
J.J. explains this interweaving of events as synchronicity – a term coined by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung which refers to two (or more) things or events that are a meaningful coincidence. For example, a person may feel a deep wave of sadness or pain at the same time that a loved one is dying miles away. The same moment that Alex, Clear, and Carter watch Terry get hit by a bus is the same moment that Kat was traveling towards her final destination. Sam and Molly boarding their final flight in Final Destination 5 right when Alex’s story is just getting started is another example of synchronicity in the franchise. These events happen at the same time by chance but a deeper meaning can be extracted from it all.
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Of course, the numerologists all stress that the Final Destination movies are ultimately for viewer’s entertainment. It doesn’t mean that if you board a Flight 180 or see a bus with 081 that you will necessarily die. And people often survive near-death experiences without a random toaster, fire, or bus later coming to kill them.
“I think that the biggest thing that I’ve learned in numerology is that every number is a lesson,” Briana affirms. “There’s a belief that there are bad numbers out there like 666 and things like that. But, at the end of the day, there are no bad numbers. They are all just messages…the biggest thing that people can do is kind of pay attention and be self-aware.”
It’s interesting to see how the real-life concepts surrounding numerology play into Final Destination’s fictional narrative. On the surface, the franchise is a creepy thriller that will make you want to trust your gut to the point of paranoia. But, just maybe, it’s a small lesson on how numerology, life, death, and fate are all apart of the same circle.
Image Credit: New Line Cinema