0 out of ★★★★
I hated Wish Upon so much that I’m hesitant to write this review. I don’t want to come across as someone who takes glee in movie missteps, so here are the positive things Wish Upon has going for it.
First, there are some really tense moments where you can’t help but squirm in your seat. Like when some poor woman’s hair gets stuck in a garbage disposal and another where an old man takes a seemingly innocuous bath.
Secondly, some of the death scenes are unexpected and new to the horror genre.
Finally, there is the beautiful photography and interesting shot choices that you don’t often see in a scary movie.
Other than that, Wish Upon is top to bottom awful. The storyline is predictable, the dialogue unrealistic and the characters do stupid things.
Joey King plays Clare, a loser high school student who is clearly suffering some form of PTSD related to her mother’s death. Her whole world changes when her dumpster diving daddy (Ryan Phillippe) brings her an ancient Chinese box which tells her she has seven wishes. Okay, fine so far. But then she starts actually making wishes and people around her die.
She somehow doesn’t connect the two and continues to make wishes. She wishes for typical crap; popularity, wealth and a hot boyfriend. But she realizes all this stuff isn’t making her happy. Not to mention that all of her wishes come with crazy baggage. Like her new boyfriend, who’s madly in love with her, also becomes an obsessive sociopath that photographs her unknowingly. Or the fact that EVERY SINGLE WISH KILLS SOMEONE SHE CARES ABOUT.
From there, the movie becomes Final Destination with people trying desperately to escape inevitable death. The only unpredictable thing about the film’s plot is how idiotic they make Clare’s character.
When someone is sneaking up on her in the woods at night, Clare says “Hello?” and chases them. In the horror world we call that a “no-no.” It’s as cliché as saying, “I’ll be right back” or “…”it’s probably just the wind.” So when her whole world is collapsing and she realizes she has an evil box that’s killing people, what do you think she does? If you answered, “She solves her problems by making more wishes and digging herself even deeper” then you would be correct.
The movie relies on ridiculous contrivances to forward the plot and that boils my blood. Even more irksome is the dialogue. The writer, Barbara Marshall, must be going for a Diablo Cody-esque brand of speak, but the stuff that comes out of the mouths of these kids is nuts. It doesn’t make any sense and teenagers don’t talk this way.
The actors are working with an awful script, so of course their craft is going to suffer. Phillippe, who is most definitely talented, doesn’t work as the dad here. His character lacks depth, and frankly he’s too young/good looking to seem like a blue-collar dad. Maybe a role as a helpful hot teacher or something like that would have been a better use of his talents.
At one point he plays the saxophone (he’s clearly not playing the saxophone) while his daughter and her ogling friends watch. It’s so cringe-worthy, weird, and out of place that it’s so bad it’s good.
Lead Joey King struggles with her lines, the supporting cast is mediocre and it all feels very amateurish. Director John Leonetti is to blame. Responsible for bringing out the best performances from his capable actors, he fails to do so. His inexperience as a director (Annabelle is his most notable film) shows while his expertise in cinematography is apparent thanks to the beautifully shot film.
Wish Upon doesn’t deliver in any way. My hope is that a meddling studio took control of the project and didn’t allow any of the creative minds to do what they sought to do. That’s the only explanation I can think of for this atrocity.
The Good: Look at the first paragraph. It’s listed there.
The Bad: Nearly every facet of this movie is horrible.
Final Word: The “be careful what you wish for” storyline is redundant but redundant isn’t always a bad thing. There are a ton of slasher and haunted house movies in the world. Some are good and some are bad. This falls in the “bad” category thanks to bad acting, editing, directing and a predictable plotline.
Starring Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Ki Hong Lee, Mitchell Slaggert. Directed by John R. Leonetti.
Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Rated PG-13 for violent and disturbing images, thematic elements and language.