Be careful what you wish for! You may not like the consequences! That’s the lesson in the latest horror offering of 2017 “Wish Upon”, a supernatural flick that overpowers an overall generic plot with a unique premise and promising cast. Providing great moments of suspense and fear, it might not be the most creative or memorable horror flick you see in 2017, but “Wish Upon” is still a fun ride full of tension and suspense worth enjoying despite its predictability.
“Wish Upon” stars Joey King as Clare, a young high schooler who is part of a loser trio in her school dealing with abuse from the popular kids, a father who she sees as an embarrassment, and a lack of closure over her mother’s suicide death years earlier. When her father, a trash picker played by Ryan Phillippe, finds a mysterious Chinese box in his travels he gives it to Clare as a gift. She soon discovers the box grants her wishes and begins to change her life for the better with the box’s help before realizing each wish comes with a bloody price.
WHile better performances have been seen, “Wish Upon” is still powered by an impressive cast of young stars who completely embrace their roles in the plot and in the high school setting over the course of the film. Joey King’s performance as the leading character Clare is especially impressive as the young actress goes from side characters and supporting role to actually leading her own film. King captures many of the greatest aspects of a traditional scream queen, she’s confident yet timid and vulnerable and when she begins to realize the selfishness of her actions King fully embraces the panic and fear of her character as the realizations take hold. King manages to create a character we can both sympathize with and feel is deserving of the consequences of her selfish wishing and when she finally loses her mind over her obsession with the magical music box King goes all in as a girl whose sanity is on the edge.
King is supported by the likes of Ki Hong Lee, Shannon Purser, and Sydney Park as fellow students and friends who try to help Clare come to grips with the consequences of her wishes and escape the temptation of the music box. While they’re not necessarily mind blowing performances, they’re not as forgettable as many side character in horror films tend to be. Each actor puts in just enough to give their character’s personality and a bit of memorability to the point where we do care about them and the unintentional impact Clare’s wishes have on them as well over time.
“Wish Upon” also features a creative and memorable plot device in the evil music wishing box that drives the story forward. Its design is spooky, its music is ominous, and while it’s an inanimate object it truly serves as the antagonist of this horror tale and even gets its own backstory that describes its origins and the curse that comes with it. As far as haunted items go, the music wishing box deserves its own credit for its sinister and ominous existence and the writers and filmmakers did a fantastic job creating something memorable to serve as the main tool of terror in this cautionary tale.
I give “Wish Upon” some credit for a bit of originality. It’s a fun movie experience that has an intriguing plot as a young girls wishes make her life heaven on earth, but at the cost of others around her both literally and figuratively creating a tale full of suspense and edge-of-your-seat anxiety over who the next victim will be and what price she Clare will have to pay next. There is one particular moment where you truly do not know who the next victim will be and this moment had me biting my nails wondering what would happen next. Not to mention each victim finds themselves in a “Final Destination”-esque scenario that makes the bloodshed more inconspicuous to the world around them adding a whole nother element to the music box that shows it’s curse bends reality in more natural ways so that every cost seems like a natural accident rather than a supernatural sacrifice.
In the end though, “Wish Upon” was, for the most part, predictable. I’m glad I had times where I truly didn’t know what would happen to who but each wish made was easy to anticipate and, for the most part, you knew who would suffer the consequences even if you didn’t know how. The conclusion of the film for me served as the most disappointing part of the film as throughout the entire third act I knew everything that was going to play out even if I wasn’t always quite sure how it would happen or be resolved. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to watch, but for everything this film has to offer it betrays itself with an underlying predictability and generic flow that keeps it from truly becoming a top-notch supernatural horror experience. While it’s not mediocre, it’s still terribly easy to anticipate.
“Wish Upon” may not be the scare fest is COULD have been, but trust me when I say this movie could have been a whole lot worse. It’s fun, to say the least, and its bloody premise is a rather unique concept I’m surprised is not explored more in the genre. It has a talented cast and it does offer some good scares along the way so if you’re looking for a generic popcorn horror flick that hits most of the right notes this one is plenty good enough to get you by. It’s far from the best the horror genre has offered in 2017, but as the horror genre explores new legitimacy with more subtle horror flicks, it’s nice to see that good old-fashioned bloodshed and supernatural themes can still get the job done.