Wish Upon (2017)

DVD Cover (Broad Green Pictures)
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Overall Rating 51%
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Ranked #3,522
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A teen girl discovers a magical box that will grant her seven wishes. As she uses her wishes for personal gain, bad things begin to happen to those around her. She discovers an evil entity lives inside the box and may be behind the gruesome deaths. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: November 5, 2017
When I reviewed The Conjuring, I noted that "Joey King showed that she's exceptionally talented; I'm thinking she'll have quite a career ahead of her". Four years after the movie released, she's found herself in the leading role of Wish Upon.

After walking in on her mother's suicide as a child, Clare's life never did get back on its feet. She only has two friends to her name and would be virtually invisible if she wasn't a constant target for the school's popular clique, led by Darcie Chapman. It certainly doesn't help matters that her dad's salvage job routinely has him dumpster diving outside the school for all to see. On his latest "exploration", he finds a locked music box covered in Chinese calligraphy, an obvious birthday present for his daughter given her love of the Oriental culture. Looking it over when she gets home, she's able to translate the words "seven wishes" and, still fuming from a fist-fight with Darcie earlier in the day, bitterly wishes her rival would "just rot". The next day, Clare makes two discoveries: Darcie has indeed contracted an infection causing her flesh to decay and her beloved dog, Max, had died. While she doesn't notice any connection between two events, she did catch on that her wish was granted. Soon, her requests begin to pile up and Clare quickly learns that this powerful box does not come without a price.

The movie received a critical slamming on its release but it's really not that bad. Of course, it's certainly not good either. The problem is that it's just another "Be careful what you wish for" story, chock full of all the cliches the sub-genre is known for. No really. All of them. You can call every single twist and turn Wish Upon's plot takes after fifteen minutes and every single one of them has been done better. That's not even taking the strict archetypal character roles or the Final Destination inspirations into consideration either. None of these techniques are done incompetently and in a vacuum Wish Upon is entertaining enough but as a genre fan there's no way you can watch it without marking your Bingo card of where these tropes came from.

This "by-the-books" writing creates another glaring flaw. Namely, Clare's critical thinking and decision making skills are virtually non-existant. On the one hand, I can give this half a defense as it's more in the realm of "Clare is your typical stupid teenager" than the usual "necessary-for-plot-progression", but with some minor rewriting they could have moved the focus of the movie off of the box itself and onto Clare's motivation. Considering she believes that her life is terrible, the girl's rationalizion for improving her current affairs despite the mounting deaths could be a great story. What's more, it would actually forgive the aforementioned cliches since it's only providing the set-up for the movie.

I do have to admit that Joey King didn't shine quite as bright as I thought she would in her big outing. I didn't have any problems with her performance, it just wasn't a stand-out. Once again though, she wasn't given a very good character to work with and I'm certainly not going to judge her based on a single movie. Especially since I came in with such high expectations on one of her first starring roles. Like I alluded to earlier, the rest of the cast were standard archetypes that were probably more on a tertiary level than secondary, but everyone held up their end well enough. Sydney Park and Ki Hong Lee's roles provided the biggest support, and I don't have any complaints about either of them.

Wish Upon isn't a painful way to spend 90 minutes but I certainly can't recommend you to go out of your way for it either. As a matter of fact, take the extra time and sit down with Final Destination, Wishmaster and Mean Girls, three better movies that provided the building blocks this movie is built from. 5/10
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