Wish Upon, 2017.
Directed by John R. Leonetti.
Starring Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Ki Hong Lee, Mitchell Slaggert, Shannon Purser, Sydney Park, and Elisabeth Röhm.
A teenage girl discovers a box that carries magic powers and a deadly price for using them.
It’s safe to say that goodie-two-shoes heroes don’t necessarily make for complex or intriguing storytelling, but Wish Upon runs so far in the other direction with high-school teenager outcast Clare (Joey King of Independence Day: Resurgence and The Conjuring) that the audience will wish upon her demise. At one point in the movie when multiple loved ones have already died accidental Final Destination style deaths, she literally picks up the trash found magical ancient Chinese musical box and vocally expresses her desire to be the most popular girl in her school. YOU JUST LOST YOUR CHILDHOOD DOG (it’s not a big spoiler as it happens not even 20 minutes in), THE LAST LINK TO YOUR TRAGICALLY SUICIDE DECEASED MOTHER, and THIS is what’s on your mind?????
I should have fucking known once I was made aware the film was set in modern day high school that the wishes would be astronomically dumb nonsense demanded by equally stupid classmates, but this level of shallow selfishness on display is unprecedented. Admittedly, Clare doesn’t actually realize that there is a blood price for her wishful actions, but that’s because she’s a self-absorbed dumbass and also cluelessly written. Three loved ones perish after three successful wishes granted with her being none the wiser to the consequences. Honestly, it might have actually reached five wishes before she notices, I can’t really remember as I was too busy restraining myself from tearing down the screen. By the time she’s fighting to change her ways it’s too late to care.
Even the deaths here are completely lame PG-13 crap. Wait, I lied; one of them had me in fits laughing at an elderly man slipping in the bathtub subsequently cracking his skull open. At least whether there’s an afterlife or not, he’s in a better place seeing as no one gave a shit about him while he was among the living. The relatives and close friends Clare supposedly love have appallingly meaningless deaths; Clare should be triggered back into a crippling depression but if anything, people dying around her is irrelevant since she’s drastically improving her social and materialistic life.
Actually, there is one wish that isn’t too selfish, which is desiring her father (Ryan Phillippe) to find happiness, but it’s because she’s embarrassed by his dumpster cleaning job that sees him snagging useless junk on the side. Hoarding is apparently his coping mechanism for still grieving the loss of his wife, except in execution it’s just another tool to present Clare as an unlikable human being. Nothing about the long gone piece of this triangular family is elaborated on, which is an unforgivable insult to real people struggling with mental illnesses. The direction is as weak as “mom wasn’t happy and hung herself”, though I expect nothing less from John R. Leonetti, director of masterpieces such as Annabelle and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
To make Wish Upon even more painful, Clare has various friends that all try getting into to her head that what she’s doing is morally disgusting, but ignores their advice. She doesn’t need them anymore, she’s dating her crush and hottest guy in school thanks to a music box plucked out of garbage (there’s also a spooky demon statue above the gates of the household entrance just to let really stupid viewers know that bad things probably went down). The only semi-interesting thing the script does is have Clare wish her crush as “madly in love” with her, leading to stalker behavior that quickly turns dark, but also hilarious because Wish Upon is an extremely stupid movie.
Rounded out with an atrocious soundtrack booming over teenagers splurging money and other banalities, there’s also a five-minute backstory explaining the legend of the supernatural music box by way of Chinese writing. Also, the symbols are so ancient and difficult to comprehend a college student deciphers it immediately. Wish Upon is awful, and even teases a sequel. I wish it into abstract hell.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★