Dir John r leonetti, UK 2017 On UK release from 28 July
In this teen horror, outsider Clare (Joey King) has not had an easy life since her mother committed suicide when Clare was a little girl. With her grief-stricken father (Ryan Phillippe) resorting to scavenging all manner of discarded items to sustain them, Clare is particularly embarrassed when her father’s line of work brings him near her high school; but then he finds something interesting: a strange, ornate box with Chinese writing. It turns out that the box grants wishes. Clare asks for things that seemingly improve her life, but she soon begins to realise that her wishes are fulfilled at a terrifying cost.
The trailer for left you feeling as if you are watching the sales pitch for generic teen horror #425, and the actual film is just as underwhelming and formulaic as the trailer suggested. It progresses exactly how you would expect, and when the obligatory exposition overload scene begins, you begin to nurse a wish of your own: that you would much rather be watching a film about the origins of the demonic box than this bland high school horror. The blandness is not only present in the story and structure, but also extends to the acting; the lead is not particularly convincing, and it feels as if she has not received much direction in how to properly evoke the significantly emotional reactions some scenes are obviously supposed to convey; the results are rather cringeworthy at times.
Not even the gore manages to be a redeeming factor, as the special effects are either poorly executed, poorly filmed, poorly edited or a combination of all three. Ultimately, Wish Upon is a deeply unimpressive and generic horror film that will leave fans happy to pay the ghastly price the film’s demonic MacGuffin craves if it meant that they could watch something better instead.