If you took a dash of Wishmaster. A pinch of Final Destination. Several cups of tween drama. Blend all of them together and what do you get? Wish Upon.
Wish Upon was directed by John R. Leonetti. Leonetti is no stranger to horror. For those of you who do not know the director, he has served as D.P. on several of James Wan’s films, including The Conjuring, Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2, and Death Sentence. He also directed The Conjuring spin-off film, Annabelle.
Clare Shannon (Joey King) is a traumatized teen who found her mother after she hanged herself when she was young, but only after her mother mysteriously disposed of a box, carved with ancient Chinese words and symbols in the trash.
Years later, Clare, now a teenager, is unpopular at school, bullied, and only has two close friends, June (Shannon Purser from Netfilx’s Stranger Things) and Meredith (Sydney Park). She is living with her father, Johnathan, (Ryan Philipee) who has a “job” (I guess) going around to dumpsters looking for scraps he can resell.
At one of the dump sites, Johnathan finds the mysterious box (the same box, Clare’s mother disposed of) and brings it home to his daughter because of the Chinese writing on the side, and since Clare is studying Chinese language in school (of course she is; convenient plot device) Johnathan thinks his daughter will like this dumpster dived gift – he actually wraps it up for her. HAHAHA!
Opening the “present” Clare finds that she can read only a few words. “Seven Wishes” is inscribed on the front. The box is closed with a metal clasp and will not open. Thinking the box is silly, Clare decides to make a stupid wish against one of her bullies – a wish that will soon come true. But what Clare does not know, is that every wish she makes, someone has to pay the ultimate price…in blood.
I went into Wish Upon knowing (kind of) what I was going to see. The film was PG-13 and that the filmmakers were targeting the teen demographic. I knew there wasn’t going to be a lot of gore, blood, foul language, or grizzly violence.
And that’s okay. I’m not a gore hound that needs all horror movies to be R-rated in order for them to be good – Poltergeist is PG, The Ring (remake) is PG-13, and both of them are very well made, scary movies that I have both enjoyed and praised over the years to countless people.
Wish Upon is not that caliber of film. It lacks originality and you can see the ending coming a mile away, because it has already been done before. Most characters are nothing more than cliché movie characters that we’ve seen in countless teen movies: the pretty and popular bad girl bully and her crew, the good looking jock, the broken down widower father, and the traumatized teen and her spunky buddies.
The deaths in the movie are a series of Rube Goldberg type accidents, just like Final Destination, that the box unleashes on its victims after Clare wishes for something she wants.
The movie isn’t scary in any way shape or form either, rather relying on the Rube Goldberg scenarios to create tension rather than scares.
Leonetti’s direction is competent in telling the story, but lacking any artistic touches that may have otherwise made the film better – it just all comes off kind of flat and…meh.
But I wouldn’t call Wish Upon a bad film – for young kids and teenagers just getting into horror. This film knew who it was going after and did that well for that age group. Kids would understand these characters and somewhat identify with them and their problems. The kills in the movie are just violent enough that the younger audience (who has never seen hard R horror movies) would find them disturbing.
I think what younger audiences would take away from Wish Upon more than anything else is the films message: be careful what you wish for. When Clare begins to wish for things, it’s all to fit her needs and wants: money, popularity, the hunk boyfriend, the rotting bully (yes that happens) but she soon finds that her wishes have repercussions to both her family and friends, repercussions that will cost her everything.
For adult audiences, and horror hounds who’ve seen it all, Wish Upon will be a big letdown and there is nothing really new to see here.
Wish Upon was a good film for a younger horror audience (it has an R.L. Stine Goosebumps feel to it) and I think kids and teenagers, who are not ready to see really scary films, will find this entertaining, with just enough story, mystery, horror, and scares to satisfy them until they are older.
I’m going to give this two ratings: one for kids and one for adults.
ADULT RATING: 4 out of 10
KID RATING: 8 out of 10
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