After a very limited theatrical release earlier this year, cautionary supernatural tale, The Final Wish, is available now on VOD platforms. It’s yet another contemporary take on the old Monkey’s Paw tale. With so many modern versions of the story can The Final Wish distinguish itself? Will the presence of horror favourite Lin Shaye give this indie chiller a little gravitas?
Aaron Hammond is a young, struggling lawyer – the epitome of the small-town kid failing in the big city. After his father’s death, Aaron goes home to help his grieving mother deal with their estate. While Aaron is sorting through his father’s belongings, he discovers an antique urn. Soon Aaron discovers that his idle wishes are coming true with horrific twists. He slowly makes the connection between these flights of fancy and the urn itself. But an ancient evil resides in the urn and Aaron’s discovery may be too little, too late.
The Final Wish Takes Few Risks With Familiar Story
Three writers contributed The Final Wish’s screenplay, including Final Destination writer, Jeffrey Reddick. It’s probably not surprising then that the movie shares similar plot beats and rhythms with the Final Destination series. Take some of Final Destination and mix it with the familiar tale of The Monkey’s Paw, and you have The Final Wish. Not familiar with The Monkey’s Paw? Then imagine recent horror dud Wish Upon with a more R-rated approach. In terms of story, The Final Wish is best described as yet another contemporary take on the ‘be careful what you wish for’ tale. That is, the writers don’t really tinker with the concept or throw any curveballs into the story.
… this is straightforward, risk-free storytelling.
But it’s not just the basic horror narrative that’s recycled. The Final Wish’s writers take few risks with the material. Tropes from other film genres are liberally borrowed and sprinkled across the movie. For instance, Aaron is the ‘prodigal son’ returning to his small-town after falling hard in the ‘big city’. There’s a ‘love interest’ that ended up with the ‘town jerk’ after Aaron left. Without a doubt, this is straightforward, risk-free storytelling that raises the spectre of feeling too generic.
Well-Paced Execution Elevates The Final Wish
To his credit, director Timothy Woodward Jr. makes lemonade of the movie’s lackluster screenplay. From the opening scene, Woodward shows a deft hand at staging his scares and suspense. Like the movie’s screenplay, Woodward doesn’t really do anything that screams innovative. The Final Wish’s scares are mostly a bag of familiar tricks. Mirror-image doppelgangers, loud sounds, and quick edits to scary sights abound from start to finish. But it’s all executed with just enough style to elevate it above the majority of supernatural horror haunting VOD platforms. What also helps to distinguish The Final Wish is the movie’s attention to atmosphere and character. Though the characters are familiar, they’re largely likable, which gives the story some stakes. In addition, Woodward patiently soaks the movie’s early stages in some effective atmosphere. The end result is that The Final Wish is very watchable if not a little underwhelming.
Genre Favourites Bolster the Supporting Cast
The Final Wish’s major players are largely unfamiliar faces. Michael Welch, playing ‘Aaron Hammond’, could easily be mistaken for The Collection’s Josh Stewart. He has an ‘every man’ look and appeal that actually works well for the character. While Welch is tasked with carrying the movie, he’s backed by a very capable supporting cast. Genre favourite Lin Shaye (Insidious: The Last Key) shines as always with the little screen-time she’s given. As Aaron’s grieving mother, Shaye continues to enjoy a career renaissance of sorts. Of course, you can’t help but wish she was in the movie a little more. Rounding out the cast in very small roles are Tony Todd (Candyman, Hell Fest) and Spencer Locke (Resident Evil: Extinction). It’s nice to see both performers, but they’re not around long enough to really register.
The Final Wish Is a Fun Diversion In Spite of Its Familiary
Nothing about The Final Wish is fresh or innovative. If you’ve watched horror movies for any amount of time, you’ve seen this movie before. In all fairness, however, The Final Wish doesn’t really aspire to be much more than the sum of its parts. And in this regard, it succeeds. What we have is a perfectly watchable horror movie that balance early atmosphere with a few decent jolts and some mildly gross-out death scenes. For approximately 90 minutes, The Final Wish will entertain you and then be forgotten pretty quickly.