GORE IN THE STORE
THE FINAL WISH ***
Directed by Timothy Woodward Jr.
Starring Michael Welch, Lin Shaye, Melissa Bolona. Horror, 96 mins, 18.
Released in the UK on Digital HD by Signature Entertainment from May 25th
When struggling young lawyer Aaron returns from Chicago to his small town, a host of supernatural shenanigans are unleashed when he discovers an old urn among his late father’s belongings. Unexplained and troubling events, often coming immediately after Aaron makes a statement beginning with the words “I wish…”, start to occur on a regular basis. Could there possibly be a connection to the old, rune covered urn?
Well, without going into spoilers, not that there is a lot to spoil here, but yes. The Final Wish could be used as a perfect example of workmanlike filmmaking. Directed by Timothy Woodward Jr, who with a quick look at his IMDB page appears to have been directing on average three films a year since 2013, could be defined as a workmanlike director. That he manages to take what is a hackneyed premise and turn out an entertaining product that is respective to the genre where many directors are happy to put in little effort just to make a quick profit is a pleasant and welcome surprise.
Also impressive is the photography of Pablo Diez. A regular collaborator of Woodward Jr’s, he gives the film an impressive visual style including bright luminous greens with vibrant reds and pink that is reminiscent of Mario Bava with its multi-coloured palette. Particularly impressive as the main bulk of the action takes place in a small dusty mid-Western town surrounded by empty fields and mountains.
Whilst it may not aim for the cartoonish heights of the WISHMASTER franchise it is helped along in no small part by an offbeat performance from Lin Shaye. Her resurgent career as one of horror cinemas eldest stateswoman is one of cinemas unlikeliest yet pleasing comebacks. Usually used in other horror films as either a calming presence on the side of good or a disturbingly doolally pensioner she generously gives out helpings of both varieties here in a performance that would not be out of place in a David Lynch film. Whether her bereaved widow is apologising for dishing out dry cereal as a main meal or screaming at her son for not wanting to dance with her she manages to give an off-kilter edge to the film.
In a further bid to ensure that horror fans take notice is the Candyman himself. Tony Todd pops up in a cameo to handily provide exposition for what is responsible for Aaron’s supernatural misfortunes.
At times it comes across as the filmic equivalent of an 80’s horror paperback. The concept of a cursed object running ruin over the lives of a small towns’ inhabitants, who all have their own sketched out backstories and motivations is present and correct. Afficionados may find it a touch subdued when it comes to gore or even proper scares, but as a piece of straight forward, no frills entertainment it helps pass the time pleasantly enough. With a more competent script it is entirely possible that Woodward Jr could make more of an impression with horror fans and rise through the ranks of genre directors.