Review Rating: 7 out of 10
Spoilers are in the box!
A high school girl discovers a Chinese wishing box that actually grants her wishes – with horrific consequences!
Okay, so Clare Shannon (Joey King) is your very typical Carrie-like put-upon high school girl. A pair of devoted outcast friends (anyone else recognize Barb?!), bitchy H.S. rival enemies, a toooootally embarrassing father, and that angsty artistic temperament all lead to a depressed but relatable girl lead. Clare’s mom killed herself with that old hangin’ rope right at the beginning of the movie, but it sure looked like she had the wishing box first, which leads to all kinds of interesting speculations. Clare and her dad are noticeably poor, and Jonathon Shannon (Ryan Phillipe) dumpster-diving for treasure right in plain view of Clare’s school sure doesn’t help. The only real comfort in Clare’s life is her dog, given to her as the last legacy of her beloved and missed mother. And this is where we begin.
So inevitably, Jonathon found the wishing box on some dumpster dive and gave it to Clare to try and apologize for being embarrassing. And quite soon after that, the H.S. bitch that gives Clare such a hard time gave Clare an extra-hard time, and it’s one wish down. You really should be more careful with your wording, little leading lady, but then again, wishing for someone to go rot opens up all sorts of fine body-Horror opportunities for the movie. As much fun as it is to hear that bitch-fest is in the hospital, Clare needs to learn that all magic, especially of this magnitude, comes at a price. First up to go is Clare’s beloved dog, and of course Clare is devastated.
But not devastated enough to stop wishing, oh no. Our lead just happens to take Chinese language classes in high school (when did that become a curriculum option?) and so learns she’s offered seven wishes from the pretty box that plays haunting music at odd times after Clare’s made her wishes. Like any common put-upon high school girl, Clare’s wishes continue to be selfish in the extreme, whether it be insisting the handsome boy she’s had a thing for since elementary school fall head over heels for her, or turning the death of a neighbor into a windfall of cash and extravagance for her, her father and her two closest friends June and Meredith (Shannon Purser & Sydney Park), but the sacrifices are beginning to pile up and become impossible to ignore or explain away.
A friend from Chinese class, Ryan (Ki Hong Lee), with a super-obvious crush on Clare offers to take the box to his cousin for better language translation, who of course soon after gets spiked for her trouble. Even with the super-nasty death of one of her two true friends, and the very real possibility of the death of her father, Clare can’t seem to rid herself of the box, by means fair, foul, or even necessary. Her insistence she knows what to do, how to “fix everything” and rid herself of the box simultaneously, is a pretty standard “gotcha!” Horror trope by now, so we can all guess what happened to poor Clare after that. Still, the ending of the film was a nice little ba-zing! for fans, myself included, who thought Clare needed to get what was coming to her.
With a plot very much like The Craft and a bunch of zany death scenes that strongly echo the style of the Final Destination films, Wish Upon is a very good movie for a new generation of Horror fans to begin a lifelong obsession. (Though seriously, Ryan Phillipe in the Dad role makes me feel old.) Given the PG-13 rating and the eternal high school drama that Carrie ever despaired of, Wish Upon is a burgeoning entry into the Horror world anyone can appreciate!
Many thanks to the crew of Horrible Imaginings Film Festival for the pre-screening of Wish Upon, catch the carnage on Netflix now!