When a movie positions itself as a horror, you expect lots of scary moments. If a movie positions itself as a thriller, you expect unexpected twists and turns. Sadly, Wish Upon is none of those – it is a bad crossover between Final Destination and Jumanji, to say the least.
I was expecting a lot from the movie when I chanced upon the trailer and saw that it was Annabelle helmer John R. Leonetti who was directing it. Wish Upon is the story of Claire Shannon (Joey King), an unhappy teen girl whose mother killed herself years prior.
What Claire may lack in material wealth she more than makes up for in family, friends, and community. She’s far from the most popular girl in school—for some inexplicable reason, she is actually the popular kids’ favorite punching bag—but she has people in her life who truly love her.
Claire’s depressive father (Ryan Phillippe) spends his days driving a dumpster for scrap metal. One day, he finds an octagonal music box covered in Mandarin characters in a cemetery garbage bin, and leaves it on Clare’s bed as a present. Luckily, Clare knows just enough Chinese to read the part of the inscription that reads “seven wishes,” but not enough to read all the other parts.
Wish Upon is more of a dumbed-down version of W.W. Jacobs’ 1902 story, “The Monkey’s Paw,” in which a cursed artifact gives its owner three wishes, with each of those wishes exacting a counter-punishment. In Wish Upon, the Chinese music box grants seven wishes, with each wish simply leading to the elaborate death of an increasingly less marginal figure in our heroine’s life.
As the movie progresses, Wish Upon feels more like a “straight to TV” movie than a potential frachise-starter. Having said that, however, the movie is not devoid of total enjoyment. Like some may say, the movie is so bad, that it is actually good. It does offer high drama, cheap scares, and predictable deaths.
While the wishes are granted and people are killed in bizarre ways, the movie offers no explanation as to why the Chinese music box has turned into a killing machine and the whole purpose. If you go into the theater expecting a brilliant horror movie with a plot, you will be disappointed.
However, if you don’t care much about the story in your horror films, Wish Upon could be the fun, unintentionally funny cinematic experience you’re looking for. Brownie points to Novo Cinemas for the premiere tickets!