John R. Leonetti, most recently the director of 2014’s horror hit Annabelle, returns to the genre with the PG-13 chiller Wish Upon. The film revolves around unpopular teenager Clare (Joey King) whose mother committed suicide at a young age and father (Ryan Phillippe) has struggled to make a living as a dumpster diver in the years since. Clare is gifted a mysterious box covered in ancient Chinese symbols, and is able to interpret enough of the writing to discover the box promises seven wishes to whomever possesses it.
Of course, devices like these never come without a catch, and every time Clare makes a wish circumstances straight out of a Final Destination flick take out those who Clare holds dearest. While Clare’s wishes are hilariously shallow and repeatedly ill-conceived, the cornball results of her wishes in a high school setting straight out of an 80’s teen flick (but now with cell phones) are almost as ridiculous and campy as the deaths that accompany them. Clare begins the film as an intelligent, caring girl but devolves into a petulant turd with a Gollum-esque obsession with her creepy Chinese wish box.
Wish Upon goes through all the checklists for a PG-13 horror flick, from the cheap jump scares to the fabricated mythology surrounding the film’s malevolent entities. However, Wish Upon separates itself from other drivel in this category (The Bye-Bye Man and The Darkness being recent examples) by its unapologetic commitment to being an absurdist B-level movie. The broadly painted characters and grisly fates that await them deliver more laughs than frights, and the film’s clunky script brings out the worst performances in all parties involved.
Wish Upon by no means is a good film, as far as an effective horror film goes Wish Upon misses the mark entirely. But the unintentional comedy of the proceedings, coupled with caveats such as Ryan Phillippe digging through trash and Barb from Stranger Things (Shannon Purser) once again being dragged into a decidedly bad situation make the film bearable.