Jonathan Shannon (Ryan Phillippe) gives his seventeen-year-old daughter Clare (Joey King) an old music box that promises to grant its owner seven wishes. Skeptical at first, Clare becomes seduced by its dark powers when her life starts to radically improve with each wish. Everything seems perfect until she realizes that every wish she makes causes the people who are closest to her to die in violent and elaborate ways.
One of the biggest cinematic mysteries of the past decade is: Why does Joey King, one of the greatest actresses of our generation, always star in absolutely atrocious movies? It’s been on my mind for a while now, especially after watching both The Kissing Both films earlier this year. She clearly has a ton of talent and she certainly proves this with everything she does. She is great in a lot of things, but the problem is that the majority of movies she stars in are terrible.
There is an exception to that rule, though. She was not only truly excellent in the television series The Act, but that was a legitimately thrilling and engrossing show that many people all around the world loved. However, more times than not, King often finds herself in the center of garbage, and 2017’s Wish Upon is sadly no exception.
To be completely honest with you, I have no idea how John R. Leonetti’s Wish Upon is even classified as a horror movie because, in truth, ninety-five percent of this movie plays out like a slightly edgier John Hughes-style high school flick. Except it doesn’t have any of the charms of a Hughes film of course. Even still though, why market Wish Upon as a gripping and horrifying movie when it has absolutely nothing scary in store?
The scariest thing that happens here is a woman’s body gets a little bit charred early on, but that’s about it. I suppose it wouldn’t have all been so dreadful had the characters been interesting and fun to watch, but they weren’t. King portrays Clare, a young girl that we are supposed to root for all the way up to the end, but I’m not sure why we’re supposed to root for her. Is it because she is simply the main protagonist? I think so.
The problem though is that Clare really isn’t even a character. All we get to know about her is that her mother passed away and that she is an introvert. She only has two friends at school that she talks to, and that’s basically the extent of her character. It felt like King had fun in the role, but this movie did not deserve her incredible talent.
Also, Wish Upon tries to establish big lore later on in the movie, and not only is it too little too late, but it’s all done using exposition. This film features some of the laziest writing I’ve seen in a horror feature in quite some time. Despite the fact that it’s only ninety minutes long, it feels considerably longer and it’s all thanks to the script being flat and uninteresting. Sure, there might be worse horror pictures out there but Wish Upon is certainly something you wouldn’t want to watch.
Wish Upon strangely enough plays out like a terrible high school teen flick rather than the gritty and engrossing horror epic it strives to be.
Overall Grade: F
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violent and disturbing images, thematic elements, and language
Directed by: John R. Leonetti
Distributed by: Broad Green Pictures, Orion Pictures
Release Date: July 14, 2017
Running Time: 90 minutes