The Final Wish 2019 ****

The horror family looks after it’s own; Timothy Woodward Jr’s film features two faces familiar from iconic roles. Here’s Lin Shaye, the paranormal investigator from the Insidious franchise, plus Tony Todd from Candyman and Final Destination. With a story which echoes The Monkey’s Paw, The Final Wish wears a smart set of horror credentials on its sleeve, and manages to pull off a tricky conceit with a slathering of Gothic style.

Actor Michael Welsh played in the Twilight movies, and has a nice John Cusack-style intensity which works for his role here as Aaron Hammond, a law student who returns to his family home after the death of his father. His mother Kate (Shaye) welcomes Aaron back, but things ain’t what they used to be. Hard-up and stuck for cash to pay his rent, Aaron plans to sell off his father’s possessions, but discovers an urn that seems to have some kind of magical powers. It seems that whatever Aaron wishes for comes true, although not quite in the way he might want…

The Final Wish draws on the old EC Comic/ Cryptkeeper morality that suggests that evil forces are quick to fasten onto weakness or vanity in the unwary; there’s a touch of Needful Things about the way the urn realises Aaron’s dreams. Tony Todd’s role in the Final Destination films was to provide some kind of half-time commentary that clears up the rules we’re playing by, and he does the same here, with a page-grabs of old books and lithographs of medieval devils. And it’s nice to see Shaye given a little bit more to work with than usual; Aaron’s wishes for his mom create a transformation that’s both fun and disconcerting to watch.

The Final Wish bubbles along nicely, but has flaws in a rushed climax that needed the kind of slow-burn that Hereditary had, plus some monster make-up that doesn’t quite do the job. But the build-up has some nice twists and turns which are highly enjoyable, and Woodward Jr does well in keeping the focus on Aaron’s decaying mind-set. Best of all, this is horror in a classic mode, with care taken on character, atmosphere and a rather baroque appearance; these are classic tropes, but The Final Wish does something fresh with them, and the result, complete with an excellent final flourish, should leave even the most jaded horror fans wanting more.

Signature Entertainment presents The Final Wish on Digital HD in the UK from May 25th



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