THE FINAL RIDE
Firstly, I’d just like to say thanks to Reel Phobia Productions and Writer/Director, Mikey McMurran (Secret Santa) for sending me an online screener to his latest film, “The Final Ride”. The Final Ride is an anthology film that presents us with three different tales of dread that venture into horror, comedy, and thriller. The opening segment centers around young couple Monica and Peter (played by Annette Wozniak and Matthew Chisholm), who have just officially become first home buyers. Shortly after moving in, Peter discovers a set of videotapes that eventually become the catalyst in a paranormal haunting at the hands of a former 80’s fitness guru (Ry Barrett). In the second story, best friends Cody and Ray (played by Brent Baird and Geoff Almond) head out for a big night that results in one of them getting a back alley tattoo that just won’t stop spreading. The final tale serves as the wraparound and it picks up with lively uber driver Jean (the lovely Keegan Chambers), whose night takes a turn for the worse after her final passenger presents as a threat on her life. The film also stars Nicole Kawalez, Joseph Claude Dubois, and Steve Kasan.
The Final Ride begins with a handful of frames from the Uber wraparound before presenting us with a great ’90s inspired synth track from Andre Becker which plays over the opening credit sequence. DP, Michael Malko shows further improvement upon his previous work in McMurran’s 2015, holiday-themed slasher flick Secret Santa. The image is one of the sharpest I’ve seen in the world of micro-budget filmmaking and a majority of the framing is neat. Highlights include professionally shot car footage, as well as a superb wide shot of Monica and Peter at the dinner table. The audio track is clean and there’s some welcomed sound design in the form of accurate foley fx and synth spikes to help build the atmosphere. Most of the cast are friends of McMurran’s and even appeared in the aforementioned Secret Santa. I was surprised at the levels of improvement all around, with the end result being a much better-polished one. Wozniak takes the honors with her versatile approach applied to both comedy and drama. If I had a gripe, it’s that she somewhat broke character throughout the “feeding of the face” scene – clearly holding back the laughter.
The body horror story is about a tattoo that’s out of control and it certainly wins the points for originality. It was great to see a couple of familiar faces here, in particular, the always funny, Geoff Almond (who reminds me a lot of fellow Canadian, Jay Baruchel). Baird’s performance is quite strong and the makeup applied to him to depict the character’s ever-growing sickness is definitely worthy of a mention. Once again, it’s well shot and includes some clever rotation camera work around a group meeting in the latter stages. As for the final chapter, which follows our cute and bubbly protagonist Jean, the highlights include a fear-filled and natural piece of dramatic acting from Susana Borisic as the hapless victim of a killer on the loose (proof that one can stand out even in the smallest of roles), a fresh timelapse of uber footage, and a satisfying conclusion to the proceedings. The practical blood and gore fx are on the thin side but what we do get to see, looks rather impressive. There’s even some interesting visual fx work, namely in the first segment.
From the technical side of things, there were a few issues in The Final Ride (to be expected). I think some of the in-car lighting during the Uber story was a little bright, and in turn, appears somewhat artificial. I’d like to have seen Mikey get a little more pro-active with his reflective stuff, so as to better sell the action of a moving vehicle rather than the stationary one they obviously filmed it in. The same could be said of Jimmy’s workout tapes. They lack authenticity because they’re layered with cheap filters and imitation tape lines. McMurran would’ve been better shooting that portion of the film on an old camcorder instead. There’s some odd doorway framing in the first segment and some bad ADR or audio synching in scenes out on the street, proving problematic for Wozniak truly selling that part of her performance. I think the blood needed some more color and thickness to it as well, particularly in the final segment. Content-wise, there are a few things that don’t necessarily compute, such as a tonally odd sex scene between Annette and Peter, along with lapses in continuity involving a dead body and the realtor calling out to Annette in the house.
The Final Ride is a Canadian made, micro-budget anthology that serves as a great little slice of entertainment. Clocking in at a touch over 75 minutes, it’s never boring. The first two stories infuse unprecedented particulars and McMurran navigates some new terrain and generally balances the tone accordingly. Malko’s cinematography is progressive, the audio is crisp, and good sound design is taken full advantage of this time around. Each of the performances is consistent, the actors look to be having fun, and both the practical and visual fx are much better than you’d expect from a film with a $5,000 budget. There’s the odd shortcoming in technical execution, some lacking attention to detail, and a few hiccups in continuity, but overall this is impressive DIY filmmaking from Mikey and his cast. If you’re a fan of horror based anthology films, I can safely recommend this one. You can check out the official trailer below and do be sure to keep an eye out for this one, coming soon!
My rating for “The Final Ride” is 6.5/10