With last year’s achievement in releasing fairly intriguing horror films, (The Conjuring 2, Lights Out, Don’t Breathe) along with the highly successful Get Out earlier this year, I had hoped 2017 would continue to bring back creative and captivating stories to this movie genre. However, after seeing the mess of a movie that is Wish Upon, it feels like a giant leap backwards has happened, undoing all the progression as of late.
Where to begin with this movie? For starters, the story itself is not original. It seems to have revisited some plots from older films and pieced them together expecting to be unique. Unfortunately, this does not work well at all. The movie is about Clare (Joey King), a teenage girl who comes in possession of some sort of magical wish box that her father finds, and uses it to try and make the problems in her life better. Consequently, every wish Clare makes requires a “blood price”- meaning someone dies any time she uses it. But of course the more she uses the box for her wishes, the more consumed she is by its power.
Credit goes to Joey King for doing about as well as she could, given the script she had to work with. The same cannot be said of Ryan Phillppe, who plays Clare’s dad. Let’s take a second to recognize how odd and indifferent his back story is made out to be. While it is of course sad that he is a single father raising a daughter on his own, the sympathy is quickly disintegrated when you see how little he is around. You’d think they would at least try to play up the angle that they are tight-knit because all they have is each other, but they don’t even do that for the sake of character development. Aside from his dumpster-diving hobby (which is how he finds the evil wish box), the only other thing revealed about him is the fact that he is somehow a very talented saxophone player, which barely serves a purpose to the story. They don’t even discuss what his actual job is, or how he is able to provide for himself or Clare. Worst of all, him referring to her as “buddy” any time he talks to her makes him seem more like a douchebag than a father trying to bond with his daughter. You’re better than this role, Phillippe. We deserve more from you.
Even more disappointing than the supporting characters is the lack of a complete story. There are partial connections made between the wish box and Clare’s deceased mother, which would have been a slightly more convincing relation if they had spent more than 3 minutes trying to randomly tie it in. Because of this, the “big reveal” moment is a huge dissatisfaction that makes no sense to the rest of the story. There are also so many other ways Clare could have decided to try and fix the chaos she creates, but by the time she gets to her last wish she is so convinced that what she chooses to do is “the only way” to defeat the powers of this magical box, and the outcome is less than riveting.
For all the awfulness that is in this film, there are actually a few moments of suspense that are pulled off surprisingly well. That is the only reason this total bomb gets any rating at all. Wish Upon is a huge miss, even by horror film standards.
Rating: 2 not even close to being plausible death scenes out of 10 (20%)