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REVIEW: Wish Upon

July 28, 2017

Director: John R. Leonetti
Screenplay: Barbara Marshall
Starring: Joey King, Ki Hong Lee, Sydney Park, Elisabeth Röhm, Ryan Phillippe
Runtime: 90 Minutes

 

★★☆☆☆
 

Although many horror films center around the terrorising of woman, including the returned sense of agency to said women or 'final girl' in the face of a masked antagonist or supernatural force, it's nice to see a film like Wish Upon where the emotional mindset of an adolescent young high school girl is the driving force for much of the ensuing conflict and horror. Bringing it upon herself in moments of intense overdramatic fits of wants and needs.

This modern updating of the 'Monkeys Paw' tale, in which 17-year-old Clare (Joey King) comes into possession of mystic oriental music box that grants seven wishes to its owner with dire consequences for those around her. Usually revolving around easily avoidable grizzly deaths of their own making that wouldn't be out of place in the Final Destination series.

This is an unavoidably silly premise, and it doesn't help that the way the film goes about using its magical prop and depicting how it's demonic will enforces itself is unbelievably dumb at points. From coincidences too great for even a self-contained world such as this one, to the profoundly silly and soft core way it dispatches them for the teen crowds its aiming for.

Director John R. Leonetti only stifles matters further by making bizarre choices in the service of artistic vision. For instance, the bike left on the front lawn following Clare's mother's suicide is still there ten years later in the exact same space for no apparent reason other than to show the passage of time. Plot points are brought up and then dropped immediately, and its mood shifts turn from solemn to fun with every passing pop tune it blares over montages of shopping and partying.

That all being said, the film is still kind of fun and easy to watch. It's highly accessible even if it does lower itself to be as much, and invites you to laugh with it as often as you're laughing at it. There's also Joey King, who basically holds the film together with a brilliant screen presence and likability to her performance.

Wish Upon is a dumb and predictable feature, but it's not unwatchable at all. King is a believable lead continuing to surprise with her range, it's short and to the point and features a pretty awesome looking closing credits design sequence to an enjoyable track that leaves it with a good after impression - even if it shows more visual invention than anything in the film overall.

 

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