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Review: THE FINAL RIDE (2019)

The anthology film is showing no signs of losing its popularity any time soon. I’ve just recently reviewed Witch Tales, and now it’s time for The Final Ride, which also screened at this year’s Horror-On-Sea festival. The latest film from writer/director Mike McMurran (Secret Santa, Beneath) The Final Ride features ride share driver Jean (Keegan Chambers, Age Of The Living Dead, The Nights Before Christmas) as the connection between its three segments.

In the first segment, she drops off happy couple Peter (Matthew Chisholm, Right as Rain, Hans and Rudy’s Dinner Party) and Monica (Annette Wozniak, Bite, It Takes a Christmas Village) at the house they just bought. While looking through the basement, they find a box full of old VHS tapes. Unfortunately for Peter, they don’t contain the old-school porn he was hoping for. They do contain episodes of a fitness show featuring Jimmy Z (Ry Barrett, Cult Hero, Open Your Eyes).

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When Jimmy’s spirit starts to reach out from the tapes and possess Peter, Monica has to find a way to send him back to where he came from. It won’t be easy, but it will be delicious. This segment is quite funny and features some excellent 80s-style video effects along with a wickedly funny performance by Barret as the psycho fitness guru.

Jean sees some footage on the news concerning a local serial killer, The Berryville Ripper and a missing woman before picking up her fares.

This time it’s a couple of day drunks, Ray (Geoff Almond, Demon Bitch, The Finale: Life in Stages) and Cody (Brent Baird, Exorcism Of The Dead, Underneath: An Anthology of Terror). They’re off to get inked at some new place on the docks. Cody wakes up with a hangover and his girlfriend Tina (Nicole Kawalez, Escape the Field, Horrorathon: Volume 1) bitching at him for getting a tattoo. However, when it begins to spread and grow on its own, things really get out of hand.

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This segment features the bulk of The Final Ride’s effects. And they’re well done practical effects too. I also liked the little coda that ties up the obvious loose ends. Most importantly, just who was the Tattoo Artist (Astrida Auza, Lifechanger, Feed the Devil).

Jean herself is the star of the final tale. Her final pickup for the night (Steve Kasan, The Hyperborean, The Slaughter at Sumac Ditch) convinces her to take him somewhere out of her usual territory, something she quickly regrets as he rapidly starts creeping her out. She’s relieved when the cops pull her over on a deserted stretch of road. But appearances can be deceiving, on multiple levels.

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Shot for around $3,500 The Final Ride looks and sounds like a much higher-budgeted film. McMurran and his crew really did an excellent job on a shoestring budget. The effects alone look like they cost more than that. Carlos Henriques (Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, The Woodsmen) and Ryan Louagie (Astonishing Tales of Terror: Rocktapussy!, Do Not Disturb) deliver an impressive number and variety of effects that help the film stand out from the crowd of anthology films out there.

A better than average anthology, The Final Ride wisely avoids the all too common pitfall of trying to jam too many ultra short segments into one film and delivers a trio of well-developed stories. At just under two hours, some viewers may feel it went a bit too far in the other direction, but it worked nicely for me.

The Final Ride has been on the festival circuit for a while and hopefully will be available soon. You can check Reel Phobia Productions Facebook page for information.

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