The Final Wish


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Final Wish
"Its storyline is an old one but The Final Wish is innovative in the telling."

Grief can take people to strange places. Losing his father is an odd experience for Aaron (Michael Welch) as they weren't close and hadn't actually seen each other for several years, but he nevertheless returns to the family home to support his mother, Kate (Lin Shaye). After a reunion complicated by her resentment of his long absence, he begins going through his father's old possessions. The family were antique collectors and accumulated many unusual pieces, but it's a strange urn that captivates his attention - an urn that he might have been better advised to leave alone.

In this liminal psychic space where the boundaries of perception are recognisably blurred, Aaron notices only gradually that his luck is beginning to change. Little wishes of the sort we make every day, such as a scratchcard win, begin to come true - some more dramatic, more unlikely than others. But as is usually the case in folklore dealing with this subject, they don't always generate the results he might have hoped for, and when he gradually figures out what's going on, he learns that there's a terrible price to be paid.

Copy picture

Its storyline is an old one but The Final Wish is innovative in the telling, both in the subdued way it builds up its premise and in its acknowledgement of the impossibility of limiting one's wishes when language and culture make wishing a matter of habit, often subconscious. Although the presence of some kind of malevolent spirit associated with the urn is made clear, Jeffrey Reddick's screenplay keeps exposition to a minimum. The fact that both Aaron and Kate are suffering from the distortions of perspective that grief can cause creates significant ambiguity. When Kate's behaviour undergoes a sudden change, we don't really know how much of it is illusory, how much confirmation bias on Aaron's part, whether she has been led astray by a supernatural entity or whether she is experiencing one of the stranger - yet still quite commonplace - delusions prompted by bereavement.

Although there's a love interest for Aaron, the emotional core of the film is the relationship between mother and son. This is complex and beautifully delineated, with Shaye in fine form. Her elegant old fashioned costumes and a richly decorated set give depth and colour to her story and also help to form a picture of her deceased husband. There's a sense of the weight of history bearing down on Aaron, who is a fish out of water in this place, floundering even before he has to deal with the uncanny.

Focused primarily on psychological horror but also dealing out a fair number of shocks and scares, The Final Wish is a well crafted film that's likely to appeal to a broad range of genre fans, and it has enough going on upstairs to deserve a wider audience.

Reviewed on: 20 Jan 2019
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After the death of his father, Aaron returns home to help his grief-stricken mother and to confront his past. Going through his dad's belongings, he comes across a mysterious item that is more than it seems.

Director: Timothy Woodward Jr

Writer: Jeffrey Reddick, William Halfon

Starring: Lin Shaye, Michael Welch, Melissa Bolona, Spencer Locke, Tony Todd, Kaiwi Lyman

Year: 2018

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: US


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