Years after Clare (Joey King) witnesses her mother committing suicide, she is struggling not only with this memory, but also with a lot of bullying and ridicule by her peers for her lifestyle. Clare’s dad (Ryan Philippe) go dumpster diving and has become a hoarder. When he finds mysterious box, he gives it to Clare whom discovers it’s a wish box. Thinking nothing of it, she makes a wish and it comes true. But she discovers that for every wish she makes, there comes a sacrifice.
Wish Upon is hands-down one of the most teeny-bopper horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because the movie is entertaining for the most part. But if anything it’s a more darker version of an episode that would have been on Nickelodeon’s old T.V. series Are You Afraid of the Dark. There aren’t very many scares here except for maybe one scene where it cuts between two characters and has the audience guess who is going to die in that moment. Though the answer is fairly obvious. The story itself is very by-the-numbers, and not exactly anything special. The thing is, it does try to do something a little different by showing aspects of addiction, but the point in which they chose to explore this is rather late in the film and feels random. However, the film’s biggest problems don’t come from the fact that it’s unoriginal and formulaic, but more so from the fact that it’s horribly put together and much of it feel underdeveloped.
When the film starts and we’re supposed to see the life Clare has, I found myself thinking her life isn’t THAT terrible. For example, the bitchy blonde girl who bullies her (while pretty bitchy) isn’t portrayed as horrible as she could have been. Hell at one point Clare gets in the bully’s face and they actually fight each other! This was in the first 20 minutes! I’ve been waiting for a bullied girl to strike back at a bully in film for a long time (as opposed to run away or start crying). Clare’s is shown to be ballsy and can handle herself. But that’s just an example. Yes, her dad embarrasses her in public by being seen digging in dumpsters and her house is pretty nasty. The worst thing about her life is the fact that her mom died. Other than that her life isn’t that terrible. She has two great friends who would do anything for her. Her relationship with them is more developed than between her and her dad. Apart from being underdeveloped, everything just seems so rushed in how it moves from one thing to another to where elements and characters feel like they have no purpose other than filler. Even scenes that should be focused on more (especially in the final act) are barely touched upon but then forgotten later. An example here being a character who cuts their wrists in front of Clare, she screams (at night), cut to the character being put in an ambulance (in daytime), and then cut to Clare and a friend talking about the box (not acknowledging said character), and said character appears later acting as if nothing happened (when really they would have been in a psychiatric hospital). And don’t get me started of how quickly Ryan Philippe’s grows a beard between scenes. Plain and simple, this movie just has poor pacing, editing, and just not well put together. One thing I also need to mention is the cringe-worthy dialogue by the teenagers. I can’t imagine any teen talks like this and in lingo I’ve never heard of in my life (unless I’m just getting that old?). I do have to say though that I LOVED the ending.
It ended basically how I was hoping. Bleak, shocking, and depressing. Once it happens, it lingers just enough to make sure you feel the bleakness and then it ends. You could say that the way it was done was maybe TOO bleak and dark, but compared to how it could have ended, I embraced this with open arms. However, as much as the suddenness of it was awesome, a little build-up to it would have been nice. Though I was building it up in the back of my mind. In terms of the death scenes, they’re very quick shots and bordering off-screen (one character seemingly looks beheaded by a chainsaw, but it looks like they just get hit in the head), but the scenes themselves are pretty great and very Final Destination-like in nature. The cast actually does a great job. Most especially Joey King. She carries the movie really well and during some of the hefty and dramatic scenes (especially the ones showing her addiction) and nails it. Ryan Philippe does what he can with the role, and he honestly deserved much better material to work with. Shannon Purser and Sydney Park play Clare’s best friends and they’re great in their respective roles. You fall in love with them immediately and it’s really thanks to the actresses really bringing the characters’ personalities to life, you almost think that this is how the actresses really are.
I can’t say I recommend this movie, but it’s entertaining and worth watching on Netflix one day under the “Teen Screams” section or spending a dollar for it at Redbox. But if you don’t happen to see it in your life, you won’t be missing much. It’s a super average movie, with a super average story that has solid acting, but suffers from brutal script issues and even more brutal pacing and editing that you can’t exactly miss.