Saturday 17 September 2022

Shudder Saturday: The Final Wish (2020)

I didn't read up on what The Final Wish was actually about before I started to watch it. The title made me think (not without reason, I would say) that it would be another telling of The Monkey's Paw. It isn't, but it's not entirely dissimilar to that classic horror tale. 

Michael Welch plays Aaron Hammond, a young man who heads home to help his mother (Kate, played by Lin Shaye) after the passing of his father. Aaron also reunites with Lisa (Melissa Bolona), but Lisa is now in a relationship with the ever-ready-to-be-abusive-local-cop Derek (Kaiwi Lyman) so it's probably best if Aaron just catches up with some other friends, Tyrone (Jean Elie) and Jeremy (Jonathan Daniel Brown). There's also an old item that catches Aaron's eye, something that he soon starts to suspect is helping to make his wishes come true. But at what cost?

Directed by Timothy Woodward Jr., and co-written by a trio of writers, The Final Wish is a perfectly enjoyable, and well-made, horror movie. It isn’t too intense or gory, it’s a bit predictable, and the cast are decidedly okay, but it passes the time well enough, and works well in what it is setting out to do. The biggest problem with it is the fact that those involved didn’t just fully commit to doing The Monkey’s Paw, instead thinking the tweaks and additions would be enough to make it feel a bit fresh and unique. They don’t.

Welch is perfectly fine in the lead role, and he has to sell some aspects of his character that aren’t really made as obvious as they should be. The rest of the cast are largely easy to forget, sadly, with both Elie and Brown left to hang around in scenes that could have used a bit more punch. Bolona has to portray someone stuck in between passive and assertive, which she does well enough, and Lyman has the most fun out of everyone, playing his nasty bastard character as a full-on nasty bastard. Shaye is always welcome, and one or two scenes certainly make this worth watching if you enjoy her work.

People don’t just want the same thing over and over again, that is correct (although sometimes, as I have said before, there is a certain comfort in the familiar), but when you have such a classic concept at the heart of your tale then it makes sense to either completely rework things, maybe going a lot wilder with main plot points, or attempt a modernized presentation of something very traditional. The Final Wish falls between these two stools, to the detriment of the final product. It is good, good enough anyway, but never becomes any better than that.


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