The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Digital] - THE FINAL WISH | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Digital] - THE FINAL WISH

the final wish review
A struggling law graduate discovers an urn among his late father's possessions, which grants his every wish.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Timothy Woodward Jr.

Starring: Lin Shaye, Michael Welch, Melissa Bolona, Tony Todd, Spencer Locke

the final wish poster

Director Timothy Woodward Jr's The Final Wish is the latest addition to a growing subset of horror movies incorporating the Middle Eastern mythology of the 'Jinn'. Western horror movies have tended to reduce the concept of the Jinn down to a malevolent version of the 'Genie in a bottle', as popularised by the Wishmaster franchise. Protagonists of such movies tend to come into possession of some sort of vessel, usually an urn or vase, and subsequently release the evil spirit, granting them wishes that come with a high price. This usually results in a riff of sorts on the old 'Monkey's Paw' premise, with a wish being granted, but with a horrific twist.

the final wish review

All this comes into play in The Final Wish. Struggling Law graduate Aaron Hammond (Michael Welch) reluctantly returns to his estranged hometown upon receiving word of his father's death. An antique dealer, Aaron's father has left behind various bric a brac, including an urn, which various characters describe as "creepy", but which looked pretty benign to my eyes.

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - I See You ]

Desperate for money to pay off two months of overdue rent, which has led to his being locked out of his Chicago apartment by his landlord, Aaron buys a lottery scratchcard, and is shocked to discover he's won $5,000. The following morning, he wakes to find someone has killed the neighbour's dog, whose incessant barking had been driving him up the wall. Moments after muttering "I wish I was better looking," Aaron is hit by a car and wakes up in hospital a week later, having had plastic surgery performed on his face. When the bandages are peeled away, Aaron finds that the scar on his lip (which I have to confess, I never noticed until the movie made mention of it) has now been removed. The urn is working its magic, but needless to say, things take increasingly dark turns as more of Aaron's wishes are granted.

the final wish review

Screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick, who wrote The Final Wish's story and is credited as one of its three writers, will always have a place in the horror hall of fame as the creator of the Final Destination series. The Final Wish owes a lot to Reddick's earlier creation, with set-pieces that come off as poor relations to the wonderfully ghoulish thrills of that franchise - a sharp branch slowly breaking away above a prone man beneath; an electric radio balancing precariously above a bathing woman; Aaron stepping out into the road to be struck by a vehicle; and even exposition laced visits to a wise old character played by Tony Todd and an asylum inmate familiar with the lore.

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - Blood Machines ]

Unlike the best entries in the Final Destination series, The Final Wish is low on suspense, chiefly due to a failure to communicate its rules to the audience in a clear manner. The movie never establishes just how the urn works, leaving us scratching our heads at too many key moments. If the owner of the urn is granted wishes, does that mean that Aaron's father was in possession of the same power his son is now burdened with? You might think so, but the film offers no evidence of this having ever been the case. There's also the key question of how Aaron expresses his wishes in a way the urn can comprehend and thus act upon. Does he need to literally mouth the words or simply think about his desires? And how serious does he have to be about his wishes? At one point Aaron's neighbour and dog are both killed, but surely he didn't literally wish for their deaths? There's also the question of Aaron's elderly mother (Lin Shaye), who is clearly mentally deranged, yet nobody ever acknowledges just how batshit crazy she behaves.

the final wish review

The closing moments of The Final Wish suggest this was conceived as a potential franchise kickstarter. Had some more care been taken in laying out the rules of its premise, and more invention applied to its Omen/Final Destination-esque set-pieces, this could well have laid the foundations for a fun new horror series. As it is, The Final Wish is more successful if viewed not as a horror movie but as one of those dramas about a struggling protagonist who reluctantly returns to his hometown upon a parent's death. It has all the trappings of the sort of indies that premiere at Sundance, and the dynamic between Aaron, his ex-girlfriend (Melissa Bolona) and her new beau, who happens to be the town Sheriff (Kaiwi Lyman), is far more interesting than any of the film's supernatural elements. Credit should also go to cinematographer Pablo Diez, whose work here goes a long way towards visually elevating The Final Wish above the average straight to VOD horror fare.

The Final Wish is on UK Digital May 25th.

2020 movie reviews