Be careful what you wish for? That’s the conceit of 2017 supernatural horror flick, Wish Upon. Critics hated it, but enough people showed up at the cineplex to make it a minor box office hit. Now Netflix is giving the PG-13 teen horror a chance to find a new audience. Is Wish Upon worth your time? Or should you wish it away to the bottom of dollar store Blu-ray bins?
As a child, Claire Shannon discovered her mother’s lifeless body following her suicide. Now a teenager in high school, Claire is still haunted by the memory. Her father Jonathan, once a successful musician, has become a compulsive hoarder who spends his days dumpster diving. When Jonathan finds an old Chinese music box, he gives it to Claire as an early birthday present. Through a twist of fate, Claire discovers that the music box grants your wishes. But those wishes come with a steep price.
Wish Upon is Scare-Free Horror-Lite
Here’s a fun fact. Director John R. Leonetti’s previous directorial credits include Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, The Butterfly Effect 2, Annabelle, and Wolves at the Door. Yes, Lenoetti directed the turkey, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Fortunately, Wish Upon has more in common with the first Annabelle spin-off movie than Annihilation. That is, Wish Upon is a a competently filmed, if not underwhelming, movie aimed at a teen demographic. Of course, you could also argue that Mortal Kombat: Annihilation was at least memorably awful. In contrast, audiences will be hard-pressed to recall anything about Wish Upon.
Novice horror fans may find the death scenes intense. More experienced horror connoisseurs will consider Wish Upon to be a watered down Final Destination.
Like last year’s Blumhouse misfire, Truth or Dare, Wish Upon is a blandly inoffensive horror movie. Following the basic premise of WW Jacobs’ The Monkey’s Paw, Wish Upon only superficially delves into the large moral questions the story raises. Be Instagram famous or end world hunger? That’s about as much depth as one can expect. And Wish Upon doesn’t pause long to consider these questions. Instead the movie clips along briskly from one scare-free death scene to the next one. No tension or suspense. Not even lazily-staged jump scares. Novice horror fans may find these death scenes intense. More experienced horror connoisseurs will consider Wish Upon to be a watered down Final Destination.
Decent Cast Saddled With Unlikable Characters
To make the supernatural horror palpable for its intended teen market, Wish Upon boasts a cast of young, attractive, and familiar faces. Poor Joey King once again finds herself in a mess of a horror movie. Following her role in Wish Upon, King was cast in the mess that was last year’s Slender Man. To her credit, King almost makes you like her generally unlikable character. And that’s one of the big problems with Wish Upon. Most of the characters are either bland or unlikable. Too old now to be one of the transgressive youth in horror movies, Ryan Phillippe (I Know What You Did Last Summer) is relegated to a ‘nothing-happening’ parental role. Somehow the producers convinced Jerry O’Connell to show up in a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it’ cameo. Just like everything else about this movie, none of the other characters will register.
Wish Upon a Poor Man’s Final Destination
Wish Upon is dull, derivative horror for the early teen crowd. In spite of a talented cast and good production values, this insipid PG-13 movie forgot to be, you know, actually scary. That is to say that everything about Wish Upon is perfectly fine for a high school sleepover party. Everyone else will probably just wish they were watching something else.