BROAD GREEN PICTURES / ORION PICTURES (2017)
Director: John R. Leonetti
Starring: Joey King, Ki Hong Lee, Josephine Langford, Sydney Park, Shannon Purser, Ryan Phillippe
When you wish upon a star…
Ah, wrong movie.
From the mind of John R. Leonetti, Wish Upon is a strange hybrid of Final Destination, Hellraiser, Wishmaster and a ton of ‘80s movies (elements of, at least) all wrapped up in a (very much) 15-rated certification. It’s a mix of good ideas and bad acting, unshocking twists and playful violence.
It’s not scary, but it’s entertaining enough.
After the suicide of her mother, Clare Shannon (King) and her dumpster-diving father, Jonathan (Phillippe), have fallen into disarray. Years after the event, their house is in need of renovation and their lives have taken depressingly bleaks directions. When Jonathan retrieves a mysterious box inscripted with ancient Chinese as a gift for Clare, everything changes. The box brings seven wishes to its ‘owner’ (result!), however, it also takes a blood prize for every wish granted (always a catch…).
Desperate to turn her life around, Clare wishes for all-important requests – the love of the high school hunk, riches, a mansion and…her nemesis to experience necrotising fasciitis (i.e. to rot). When these all come true, Clare is elated – until she realises the consequences that occur because of her wishing. Enlisting schoolmate Ryan’s (Hong Lee) help to decipher the ancient text and attempt to rid herself of her desire for the box, Clare finds out she has gotten herself in deep with the devil and how her mother is attached to everything going on.
Wish Upon begins with an interesting premise and one that harkens back to the heyday of 80s horror – a mystical wish box. There’s no ghosts, zombies or vampires to be found, just a simple box that grants your wishes for a nasty price. It takes the mystical object vibes from Hellraiser and added to the campy-death-and-violence of Final Destination and creates a movie squarely aimed at fans of the latter. It’s an entertaining throwback, but with a shallow plot and some iffy performances, that’s all it remains.
Joey King as the lead character does well in the role and handles her scenes solidly. It all falls apart after that. Not every member of the cast is bad, some are just overplayed (Josephine Langford’s high school popular chick and Sydney Park’s Meredith spring to mind). The script doesn’t really help anyone through proceedings, and that will have played a part in the final deliveries. It’s your standard B-movie product. There are stereotypes galore and clichés abound, so beware.
The movie follows the tried-and-trusted method of slowly building the death scenes. There are false beats and prolonged actions all designed to build up the excitement – we know the character is going to bite it, but it’s when and how, and that old method still holds up now. It’s a fun trope to keep reintroducing to the genre. The moments themselves are entrenched in Young Adult editing and stylings, the worst moments receive a cutaway or a sneak peek (bar one brutal bathtub head smash) with blood kept to a minimum and gore a no-go (that isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Each death is telegraphed to the max, but they remain entertaining nonetheless.
The narrative gets jumbled at times, and there are some strange editing choices that become distracting at certain moments. The very first scene put me on edge as it a very independent, crude feel to it, from the imagery to the camerawork employed, and that occurs at various points in the movie. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, the issues just became noticeable to these eyes.
There’s nothing remarkable about Wish Upon, which is a shame as a bit more focus and tweaking could’ve produced a bloody good movie. If you’re looking for an entertaining throwback of sorts, you’ll have fun here. If you want to indulge your horror lust and desires, you may be disappointed.
October 29th 2017