Jun 23, 2019

WISH UPON (2017)

Wish Upon feels like it should have seen release somewhere in the late ‘90s, where more fantastical teen thrillers like The Craft, The Faculty, and Disturbing Behavior were hitting theaters. There’s a certain novelty to it that, if nothing else, offers it its own identity in a crowded genre calendar. That Wish Upon also serves as the ultimate morality tale, heavily inspired by the immortal short story The Monkey’s Paw, too, helps it to stand off from the rest.

Otherwise, Wish Upon is woeful and inept to the point of accidental amusement, and you’ve got to hand it to the screenplay for being filled with such random bits that don’t really lead anywhere and offer any explanation. Joey King’s Clare is still haunted by the suicide of her mother a decade before, and with King consistently doing solid work in some popcorn favorites (The Conjuring, White House Down), the audience likes her because she’s a likable and spunky lead. She’s, rightfully, the foundation of Wish Upon, and her talents are a good start to a pic that otherwise goes amusingly off the track, and which introduces so many befuddling elements.


Why does Clare’s father (Ryan Phillippe) trash-pick professionally instead of just getting a job? 

Why does his passion for the saxophone never amount to anything

Why doesn’t their next door neighbor (an utterly wasted Sherilyn Fenn) seem to mind at all that she lives directly across the street from a family who has let their lawn grow over with weeds and is covered sky high in piles of trash?

Why is Jerry O’Connell in this for a ten-second cameo where he does nothing but scream?

What’s with the casual prejudice, like having the gay teen boy at a slumber party sleep on the floor half-in/half-out of the closet, or a scene in which Clare bribes a Chinese girl with “wontons”?

As Clare makes increasingly selfish and stupid wishes even after it’s established that they not only come true but KILL ANOTHER PERSON, are we supposed to be screaming “YOU MORON” at the screen?

Wish Upon entertains, there’s no doubt about that, and though it lacks the more interesting directorial flair that John R. Leonetti brought to Annabelle (even if he was borrowing from James Wan), the story at least keeps you engaged in a “how badly is Clare going to fuck up her life?” kind of way.

If nothing else, please watch this for the twist ending, which I imagine was supposed to be very shocking and very sad, but instead results in instant hilarity.

If you have a bratty teen son or daughter who needs a reality check, maybe you could make a case for ever finding a useful reason for Wish Upon. Or, if you were looking for unintentional amusement (or if you’ve always wanted to see Ryan Phillippe pretend to play the saxophone), you could do a lot worse. 

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