Grief is front and center in Timothy Woodward Jr.’s The Final Wish, a cautionary tale about the dangers of wish fulfillment centered around a struggling lawyer named Aaron (Michael Welch) who just wants to do right by everyone. And because this is a horror movie we’re talking about here, wanting good things for those you love often can come with a hefty price tag attached. Aaron quickly realizes that you often need bad to balance out the good in life, and his good deeds result in some devastating outcomes, proving that even good intentions can go horribly awry.
When we’re introduced to Aaron in The Final Wish, he’s just been rejected during another job interview, he no longer has a place to live because he hasn’t been able to pay his rent, and a call from Lisa (Melissa Bolona), a former flame who informs him that his father has just passed away. Aaron heads back to his homestead to take care of his bereaved mother Kate (Lin Shaye), and as they start to deal with the remnants of their beloved patriarch’s existence, Aaron comes across an unusual looking urn that harnesses incredible powers to grant the owner’s wishes. But those seeing those desires come to life isn’t nearly as simple as it seems, and as Aaron’s well-meaning intentions begin to spiral out of control, he must step up to take on an unspeakable evil that will stop at nothing to wreak havoc in Aaron’s life.
While it does have some minor issues, as a whole, I liked The Final Wish as it does a good job of mixing up expectations while treading some very familiar territory story-wise, and both Welch and Shaye bring a lot of heart to the project too, making it easy to invest in them as characters and their respective journeys in the film. In terms of the technical aspects, I thought Pablo Diez’s cinematography was gorgeous, especially whenever we are spending time in Aaron’s family home, and the production design from Markos Keyto was just brilliant, with so many little details popping through in various scenes. Also, I must take a moment to tip my hat to Christine Costanza for her costume work in The Final Wish too, particularly when it came to Shaye’s character, as she makes some thoughtful decisions with Kate’s wardrobe as well.
As far as the movie’s minor missteps, I do think the story for The Final Wish does get a bit too complicated for its own good at times, especially in the film’s final act when Aaron realizes the weight of his prior actions and now he must find a way to make things right before its too late for everyone. There just seems to be a lot of jumping around between characters and I think the core story would be better serviced if the narrative were just a little more streamlined in the last 20 minutes or so. Also, while I am someone who loves great monster work just as much as the next horror fan, I almost wish (pun intended) that the evil entity behind all the misdeeds in The Final Wish had stayed hidden, as I think seeing an actual figure strips away a lot of the power behind the film’s message, and the creature almost feels a bit out of place in the movie that otherwise feels very grounded and realistic in its intentions.
None of these issues were enough to derail my enjoyment of The Final Wish though, as it is mathematically impossible for me to dislike anything involving the always incredible Lin Shaye, and she proves here yet again that she’s one of the best talents working the horror genre today. It may not be a film that would make my favorites list at the end of the year, but there’s still a lot to The Final Wish that I really appreciated and enjoyed, and it would make for a killer double feature with Wish Upon.
Movie Score: 3/5