Starring Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Ki Hong Lee, Mitchell Slaggert
From the director of such straight to DVD classics like Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and The Butterfly Effect 2, comes another trash bin worthy suspense flick. John R. Leonetti is apparently the guy you call when no one else will direct your film. Wish Upon calls itself a horror film because it’s got jump scares (boo-like-moments that have little or no consequence on the overall plot) but is really nothing more than a third rate Final Destination reworking. 17-year-old actress Joey King (Independence Day Resurgence) worsens things with her single talent facial expression. Audiences were cackling during scenes that should have evoked sadness or fear, demonstrating an overall misfire from script to production.
Growing up without a mother, Clare Shannon (King) is the misfit girl in high school. Living nearly in poverty with her father Jonathan (Phillippe), whose job as a dumpster scavenger is an embarrassment to a teenager. For her birthday, Jonathan brings home a unique Chinese box. Clare understands this box grants wishes and begins haphazardly making them, one by one they come true. It’s only midway through her seven wishes that she begins to understand the consequences of her actions. Each wish brings Clare closer to the life she thought she wanted, while everyone around her begins to suffer. “Is there anything you wished for, that you can’t live without,” she’s asked.
Running at a slow ninety minutes, Wish Upon at PG-13, is too afraid to get its hands dirty, aiming solely for the high school crowd.
While the script is very high on the stupidity scale, it’s screenwriter Barbara Marshall’s misunderstanding of young women and humans in general that make this story so messy. It’s one of those movies where the characters always make the dumbest decisions like putting your warm down a garbage disposal, or getting underneath a car on a jack. The only interesting aspect of Wish Upon is how our apparent protagonist’s morals deteriorate wish each wish. The audience groans with each selfish and greedy mistake Clare makes. However, there is no redeeming character for the viewer to champion. We get to a point in the story where we could care less what happens to Clare, or anyone else on screen for that matter. This is a product of scenes that function as vignettes, introducing minor characters only briefly before killing them as a consequence.
Running at a slow ninety minutes, Wish Upon at PG-13, is too afraid to get its hands dirty, aiming solely for the high school crowd. Horror movie alum Ryan Phillippe (I Know What You Did Last Summer) is nearly unrecognizable as the bearded dad figure. Like most films in the genre, the script reaches an intersection of toleration and absurdity, but blows right past, erasing what little accountability our leading character has into complete madness. The final scene might be the most inspired and satisfying for someone who hasn’t enjoyed much of the film. There is both a redemptive quality in the conclusion also room for a sequel in the off chance this inexpensive thriller makes bank.
Lackluster screenwriting, sloppy direction and inept performances will make you ‘Wish’ you were watching something else.