Wish Upon review
Though a bit overused in fantasy situations, the “wishes” plot can be a great point of inspiration and an interesting look into ones psyche. I think its safe to say we’ve all had moment where we wished that a genie could come around and let us have a wish. Personally, I would have wished to see into the future, access to every movie in existence, and a pizza supply that would never run out. What’s also neat about “wish” stories is that there always seems to be tricks to them, whether its out the wishes are said, or maybe the genie’s magic doesn’t work right.
Let’s say I got my visions of the future. This might mean I could only see two seconds because I didn’t specify how far I could see. Then there’s the movie one. This would likely mean I’d have to dig through a lot of crap to find the good ones. Even the pizza one has flaws; let’s say I’m not hungry for pizza one day and whatever was left would rot.
Though it would be easy to bring up Aladdin, I think The Twilight Zone did it first with “The Monkey’s Paw” episode where the wishes went wrong. Wish Upon takes the idea into a high school setting.
Claire (played by Joey King) seems to be doing fine; she has a dumpster diving father Jonathon (played by Ryan Phillipe), friends, and a talent for the arts. But she’s unpopular and a target for bullies. One day, her father happens to find a mysterious box with Chinese lettering and gives it to Claire, thinking she’d like it. She finds that the box means that it grants wishes. Though she thinks it’s nothing more then decoration, she still wishes that the girl who bullies her “would go rot” only to find the next day that the same girl had caught a disease where her skin was rotting away.
Curious, she continues to make wishes including that she inherits a ton of money from a relative, that the boy of her dreams would fall for her and that she would be the most popular girl in school. What she doesn’t know is that with each wish she makes, there is a blood price, which causes people close to her to die. The wishes add up, but they also start to backfire on Claire, who starts to understand the consequences more.
You’d think that with an idea as interesting as Wish Upon, the filmmakers could come up with a lot more then repeating a lot of teen and horror film tropes. Let me put it this way; you go in already knowing that the wishes are going to end up bad and that’s it. This is a movie that exists for your reaction. Wish Upon is the movie equivalent to those YouTube reaction shows that are fed on your desire for your shock. The problem is that not only are you never surprised by any of the deaths, but with a PG-13, the gore and blood are restrained.
So what about those tropes? Many of the deaths are from Final Destination and Saw, the girl wanting to be popular is from 10 Things I Hate About You and The DUFF, the stalking boyfriend is from Fatal Attraction and The Boy Next Door, the ditching the friends is from Mean Girls, and the stupid people dying from their own fault is from too many horror movies to count. I’d be shocked if any the writers got paid (or perhaps not) as almost nothing original is present.
The only good thing I can comment on is of the acting of Joey King. You can tell she’s giving it all she can for a movie that’s not worth the work. She can do alright playing the geek, but I have a hard time believing she would be unpopular. I thought that looks were only half of the high school social scene? Don’t most kids hang out with the ones that have interesting personalities? Maybe in some parallel universe, this could have been a story about a popular girl who suddenly finds herself an outcast for no reason.
I’ll give this one and a half wish boxes out of five. Wish Upon has to be one of the most ridiculous thrillers I’ve seen in a while. You know something is bad when even at an hour and twenty minute running time, it felt like three. Perhaps there is a reason the kind of story used for Wish Upon is reserved only for those supernatural TV shows.