Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
July 1st, 2019

The Final Wish

The Final Wish
Directed by Timothy Woodward Jr
Written by Jeffrey Reddick, William Halfon, Jonathan Doyle
Starring Lin Shaye, Tony Todd, Michael Welch
95 mins

Be careful what you wish for, because you may just get it. It's a bit of a cliche that's seen a lot of horror through nicely. From stories like "The Monkey's Paw" to movies like "Wishmaster," the notion of wishes that don't come true how you intend is familiar and more than a little scary to anyone who's ever wished for cash only to find their parents died and left them a bundle. That's basically the stance behind "The Final Wish," which gives us some fairly big-name figures in the horror market and lets them play with a fairly old concept.

"The Final Wish" follows Aaron Hammond, whose father recently died. No, he didn't die as the result of Aaron's wish and leave a bundle of cash behind, resulting in the double-edged wish in question. Instead, what his father left behind was Aaron and his mother, Kate, who now sorely needs her son's help as she's having a tough time getting along without her now-deceased husband. Aaron returns home to care for mom, and in the process, discovers an urn in his father's old belongings. The urn has some kind of otherworldly ability to grant wishes, but the granted wishes come at a price. As Aaron goes along, he discovers that that price may prove much higher than he expected.

Sounds familiar? Sure it does. There's no crime in pointing that out, because "The Final Wish" is going to run along some fairly standard lines. And yes, this did spend just a little time in theaters, though not so many of them that this can be much more than direct-to-video.

However, it's pretty high-end direct-to-video, which is exciting in and of itself. "The Final Wish" has a positively lovely aesthetic to it; there are lots of blues and blacks here that make the film look dark, but you'll regularly spot some firespots of color--a candle here, a tinge of red in a sunset there--that contrast wonderfully. I don't usually bring this kind of thing up, because I don't have much cause to, but "The Final Wish" really does look amazing in some spots. It actually has a pretty similar look to "Insidious" in a lot of points, which is actually ironic as that's another Lin Shaye movie.

But enough about the look! How does the damn thing WATCH? Well, it spends a lot of its time being foreboding, especially in the early going. Variants on the phrase "ominous music" cropped up on the subtitles a lot more often than it probably should have. But it does a wonderful job of being creepy as Aaron's wishes are all fulfilled and often in the strangest way. It also throws in a few nice shocks throughout, which is good for horror; too much creepy and not enough shock can make for a thin, anemic mix. This would do well to put a few more shocks in, but it does at least try to keep the meat in the broth, so to speak.

The ending isn't exactly what you'd expect--frankly, "Wishmaster" went a long way toward showing how you address a case like this, by using your last wish to create a time paradox where you never found the thing in question-- but it does the job. It's also a bit of a downer, which does suck.

Special features include English subtitles, a behind the scenes featurette, a question-and-answer segment from Screamfest, and a trailer for "The Final Wish."

All in all, "The Final Wish" takes some really impressive tropes and runs with them like no tomorrow. It's what "Wishmaster" might have been if it was a little lighter on the quips and boasted a much darker outcome. Still, it's not half bad, and it's got the look of a champion to it. If you don't mind a horror movie with a depressing ending--which, let's face it, has been a lot of them lately--you'll do just fine here.