Year:  2017

Director:  John R. Leonetti

Rated:  M

Release:  July 20, 2017

Distributor: Rialto

Running time: 90 minutes

Worth: $3.50
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Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Sherilyn Fenn, Elisabeth Rohm, Ki Hong Lee

Intro: (almost) fascinatingly flat waste of cast, premise and your time.

After the surprising – some might say inexplicable – success of The Conjuring spin-off, Annabelle (2014), director John R. Leonetti has re-entered the realm of evil inanimate objects with Wish Upon. Swapping out an evil doll for a cursed music box, Leonetti once again delivers a film almost utterly devoid of genuine scares, although Wish Upon does offer more laughs than Annabelle, even though most of them are unintentional.

The story focuses on Clare Shannon (Joey King), a typical teenager who misses her deceased mum, Johanna (Elisabeth Rohm) and is consistently mortified by her dumpster-diving daddy, Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe). One fine day Jonathan uncovers a pretty-looking music box and gives it to Clare, unwittingly granting the youngster seven wishes, all of which come at a terrible cost. Naturally.

The notion of Faustian pacts in horror is as old as the hills, and done well can deliver thought-provoking thrills. Wish Upon, however, deftly manages to avoid doing anything even vaguely interesting or evocative with the subject matter. This is a movie in which Clare’s dog dies, and she’s allegedly heart-broken, but in literally the next scene uses the magic box to wish for the boy she’s crushing on to like her. Because, you know, fuck that dog!

Ryan Phillippe spends the mercifully brief runtime looking gruff and confused, possibly wondering what he’s doing in this dross. Similarly the always welcome Sherilyn Fenn is given a thankless support role as the amiable neighbour lady. Joey King, who was so effective in The Conjuring, gamely acts her heart out but with a role this inconsistently written her efforts are all for nought.

Wish Upon can never really decide if it wants to be an allegorical teen morality tale or a (strangely bloodless) riff on the Final Destination movies, and consequently fails at being either. There are a couple of effective moments during the third act, and the ending is gratifyingly brutal, but ultimately Wish Upon is an (almost) fascinatingly flat waste of cast, premise and your time.


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