03rd Jan2018

‘Wish Upon’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Ki Hong Lee, Mitchell Slaggert, Shannon Purser, Sydney Park, Elisabeth Rohm, Josephine Langford, Alexander Nunez, Sherilyn Fenn | Written by Barbara Marshall | Directed by John R Leonetti


You get what you wish for. It’s a trope that has proliferated movies and literature since the dawn of time. When the concept is done well it typically leads to taut, thrilling movies; when its done wrong… Well you get films like Gremlin.

Wish Upon, whilst not a fantastic example of the genre, is not Gremlin-level bad, but it’s not without its problems. The main of which is a ridiculously selfish lead character whose actions belie what is supposed to be a good natured teen struggling with high school. Think Mean Girls but with death, murder, a monkeys paw (yes, for that is the central conceit ALL these movies take from) and a lot of dead people.

Wish Upon tells the story of 17-year-old Clare Shannon (King), a put-upon teenager who is barely surviving the hell that is high school, along with her friends, Meredith (Park) and June (Purser). So, when her dad (Phillippe) gifts her an old music box with an inscription that promises to grant the owner’s wishes, she thinks there is nothing to lose. Clare makes her first wish and, to her surprise, it comes true. Before long, she finally has it all: money, popularity and her dream boy. Everything seems perfect – until the people closest to her begin dying in gruesome and twisted ways. Now, with blood on her hands, Clare has to get rid of the box, before it costs her and everyone she loves the ultimate price.

Essentially a retread of “unhappy accident” film Final Destination, with the same pretty-faced teen cast, the same teasing death scenes, only without an iota of the macabre humour that made that franchise achieve such longevity, Wish Upon is the kind of film-by-numbers movie making that gives the genre a bad name. It aims for a PG-13 rating, doesn’t really follow through on any of the terrifying aspects of the story, skimps on the gore and has a script that is SO out of touch with the very audience its aimed, at that it just comes across as clumsy (and in the case of some lines, really rather sexist). Though I shouldn’t have expected much more from the people behind Annabelle and Insidious – two horrors that didn’t appeal to me at all.

Yet for all my complaints, I surprisingly enjoyed my time with Wish Upon. Mainly thanks to the cast who, despite a risible script, still manage to make the best of what is a cheesy premise, a cheesy story and some ridiculously cheesy plot points: Clare’s binman dad is actually a proficient saxophone player anyone? It doesn’t hurt that Stranger Things’ Barb appears as one of Clare’s friends either; AND there’s a cameo from the legendary Sherilyn Fenn! Plus, whilst they’re not particularly horrific, the suspenseful way in which director John Leonetti teases each death at least makes for a fun watch.

OK, so this film isn’t going to set the world on fire, in fact I can see plenty of horror fans deriding this teen-friendly flick; but if you liked Final Destination you might just get a kick out of Wish Upon too. And your little sister/niece/next-door teenage neighbours daughter will probably love it!


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