Most movies would start without making us feel uncomfortable, but this one begins with young Clare Shannon (Joey King) witnessing her mother (Elizabeth Rohm) hang herself in the attic of their home. Suicide is not exactly something to throw around willy nilly, but writer Barbara Marshall sets the tone early for a lot of death that will follow. Fast forward, Clare is now living with her garbage digging, saxophone playing father- Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe looking like an Amish bum) and is frequently picked on by the popular kids in school. During one of dad's dumpster diving days of work, he finds an octagon shaped Chinese music box. He gives it to his daughter as a gift, which is odd, because I don't see trash as the kind of thing a high school kid wants? It turns out to be a box where one can make seven wishes, each wish coming true, but in return someone close to Clare must die. Not exactly something you want to make a habit of wishing upon.
Director John R. Leonetti has had a talent as a cinematographer and for making lower-budget horror films, such as his 2014 Conjuring spin-off Annabelle, but this movie falls off the rails pretty fast. It's fun in the moments when wishes are granted and each death turns into a version of Final Destination, where the death of a character is going to happen, we just don't know how. Some of the deaths are inventive, while others are like an episode of The Three Stooges. And even after the death of her dog, uncle, and a family friend, Clare never cares, showing no compassion, continuing to wish to her little hearts content.
A part of me was quite fascinated at the audacity of a story about a high school kid, selfishly making wishes for her own wealth and popularity, while she cares so little for others she's killing. That's just one of the major problems of Wish Upon. There are also strange music cues, laughable melodramatic performances from Phillippe and Joey King, and an out of nowhere cameo from Jerry O'Connell. Is that a spoiler? Not really, because when he arrives it makes no sense.
In the end, there's too many plot problems for Wish Upon to be forgiven for it's mistakes. The idea of a wish box giving someone pleasure in return for the death of others, all of that would work if the script had a sliver of a moral center. Instead, Leonetti and co. just want to have us enjoy characters killed in various ways, put actors in dramatic situations that reveal they can't act, and build a pile of continuity problems. Wish Upon might be better on an airplane or if your in the mood to waste your time, but you will most likely be wishing you had picked a different movie.
1 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady
MOVIE: WISH UPON
STARRING: JOEY KING; RYAN PHILLIPPE; KI HONG LEE; SHANNON PURSER; SYDNEY PARK
DIRECTED BY: JOHN R. LEONETTI
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 1 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Wish Upon is loaded with stupid characters and frequently induced me to put my palm to my face. It's fascinating that all of the actors, writers, editor, and director looked at this thing and said, “yeah, this is going to be a good movie”. The effort comes pretty close to something that is so bad that it's good, but I say that while shaking my head. Trust me, you won't be bored watching director John R. Leonetti tell this careful what you wish for story. Instead, you will be surprised at every turn of it's wild audacity. Wish Upon attempts to be a mixture of past horror films, a high school teen drama, and everything in between. What it results to is a low budget mess, with such oblivious characters that it's laughable. Wish Upon is a lot of things, but it's not good.