The Final Wish (2019) (a film review by Frank Ochieng).
‘The Final Wish’ is strangely contemplative in its attempt to shine an eerie light on the mysteries of death and estrangement. Director Timothy Woodward Jr. (‘Silencer’, ‘Hickok’) delivers a familiar frightfest theme but oddly its presentation is ambitious enough to overlook the occasional stand-by terror-ridden tropes. Indeed, Woodward’s gory gem is more of the psychological horror variety as it adequately taps into the realm of a messy mindset gone haywire. ‘The Final Wish’ is not flashy or fresh in its bid to turn the sub-genre upside down on its nervous knees. However, this little boo-induced creeper has a simplistic, hair-raising approach to manufacturing its decent share of chills and thrills.
Woodward’s ‘The Final Wish’ is a warped wake-up call for those wanting to take the shortcut to true satisfaction of the mind, body, and soul. Previous films such as ‘Wish Upon’ and ‘Wishmaster’ have explored the realm of instant gratification and demonstrated that such tendencies prove to be fatal. Screenwriter Jeffery Reddick (‘Day Of The Dead’, ‘Final Destination 2’) crafts an adventurous script enthusiastically promoting atmospheric spookiness mired in its grainy gumption. The chaotic quietness is unassuming in ‘The Final Wish’ as the pleasingly discomforting vibes of mystery and macabre rears its hedonistic head.
Cynical Aaron Hammond (Michael Welch) had just survived law school but somehow he remains unfulfilled in terms of guaranteed success. Already harboring negative energy for parlaying his legal career into a generating cash cow for his practicing law, Aaron received word that his estranged father had died back in his hometown. It is not an easy return home to face family and friends that feel your indifference to what has happened in the period of a lengthy absence. In particular, Aaron’s mother Kate (Lin Shaye) feels rather numb about her son’s lack of involvement in the critical days leading up to his old man’s death. In any event, Aaron tries to find a revolving solution to the targeted dismay and handle the family’s bereavement.
When handling his dead daddy’s personal items, Aaron comes across an antique urn saddled with an ominous curse…specifically a dangerous Djinn whose sole purpose is to administer wicked-minded wishes at the request of the person that regrettably released this demon spirit. As one can predict the devilish goings-on manifest from the root of positivity to the downfall of depravity at its worst. The creepy quandary for Aaron is hovering and sinister and the prized possession of his belated papa proves to be a haunting reminder that his father’s disapproval reigns supreme from the grave. As the tension builds, the frightening folklore giddily reinforces the shifty senses of our problematic protagonist.
For the most part, ‘The Final Wish’ sustains its suspense adequately because it never reaches for anything outlandish or pretentious beyond its small-scale scope of shadowy sensibilities. Woodward navigates an edgy story of shadiness and hallucination that effectively works on its freaky frolicking. Interestingly, the performances are rather transfixing despite what appears to be a pared-down paranoia piece. Both Welch and Shaye are solidly riveting as the son-mother combo linked to dysfunction, disillusionment and despair. The supernatural aura is quite convincing and the vague suggestion that the evil forces may or may not be controlling the familial tandem’s demeanor is a titillating tease that registers. Stand-by horror icon Tony Todd adds some hearty dreary dimension to the mind-blowing mix.
‘The Final Wish’ is out in limited release but it certainly deserves to be embraced for its basic backdrop of creative smoke and mirrors as it aims for something frenetic and feisty in comparison to some of the bigger boofests that have a grim bark but no bombastic bite to its mental debauchery.
There is an old-fashioned, quivering quality to ‘The Final Wish’ that feels stimulating in an otherwise standard exposition about loss of life and lost livelihood. Consequently, the meatiness to the madness may appear slight but the bone to this twitchy tale is upright in its coarse conviction.
The Final Wish (2019)
1 hour 35 mins.
Starring: Michael Welch, Lin Shaye, Tony Todd, Melissa Bolona and Spencer Locke
Directed by: Timothy Woodward Jr.
Written by: Jeffrey Reddick
Critic’s Rating: ** 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars)
(c) Frank Ochieng (2019)