★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Don’t say the ‘W’ word! Don’t do it!
Directed by Timothy Woodward Jr.
Antique shops, man. If there’s one place you should avoid to keep from getting sucked into a genre film, it’s antique shops. Sure, they might all look like they’re nothing but lawn jockeys and gigantic ostentatious picture frames, but don’t believe the facade. Dens of evil, I’m tellin’ ya. Each and every one. Case in point, the antique shop we never get to see in The Final Wish.
Why don’t we get to see it? Because the proprietor is dead, that’s why. Young wannabe Chicago lawyer, Aaron Hammond [Michael Welch; the Twilight series], thought he had problems when he failed to get the job he interviewed for and then got locked out of his apartment for missing so many rent payments. As he slumped against the wall and answered a phone call from his long-lost ex-girlfriend Lisa [Melissa Bolona; The Hurricane Heist (2018)] telling him his antique dealing father had just passed, Aaron knew his problems had just begun.
He returns home to his grieving mother, Kate [Lin Shaye; “Elise Rainier” in the Insidious series], who coincidentally lives in the same house that was used for Annabelle: Creation (2017). Here’s hoping she didn’t pay full asking price for it, eh? But, I digress…
All the antiques from dear ol’ dad’s shop are now scattered around the family home. Aaron’s attention is drawn to a mildly creepy, goat-topped urn and now the movie officially starts.
To be honest, The Final Wish is a giant “be careful what you wish for” cliché, but I’m a sucker for those stories. The twist to this one is that our hapless leading man has no idea the cursed antique is granting his wishes at first. The goat-capped urn just sits there listening for Aaron’s stray wishes. It’s kinda like owning an Amazon Echo, if Alexa wanted to steal your immortal soul.
Scratch that. It’s exactly like owning an Amazon Echo.
Since The Final Wish doesn’t tread any new ground other than the “passive wishing” trick, genre fans already know things go downhill quickly. There’s an investigative phase complete with the requisite Tony Todd cameo, a visit to the previous owner of the goat urn, and a suitably tragic ending. This film follows the formula as if it were on rails. Frankly disappointing since the core story and much of the screenplay came from the brain of Final Destination (2000) scribe, Jeffrey Reddick, but “cliché” isn’t necessarily the same as “horrible”. Unoriginal to be sure, but it’s okay to like a cliché. This is a safe space. We don’t judge.
While the character introductions were a bit ham-handed, production quality overall was high. The camera work was well done, if mildly vanilla most of the time until things got weird. Once the story took a turn for the demonic, cinematographer Pablo Diez got a chance to play a bit and came up with some fun camera angles and lens choices.
On the acting side, Michael Welch does a good job as the self-centered, djinn-cursed law school grad, Aaron, but it’s Lin Shaye’s portrayal of his mother, Kate, that steals the show. Once things really get going, she glides effortlessly between sympathetic grieving widow and over-the-top manic grandma. Her performance is wonderfully disturbing and outshines pretty much everything else in the film.
The Final Wish is a middle of the road derivative of the 1902 story, “The Monkey’s Paw”, just like all the other djinn/genie/cursed item movies out there. Of course, blueberry pancakes are just a derivative of the pancakes researchers found in Ötzi the Iceman‘s 5300 year old stomach and I still like blueberry pancakes.
Review by Robert Zilbauer.