FILM REVIEW: WISH UPON
The road to seeing WISH UPON was one that was filled with obstacle after obstacle. Filmed in Toronto (my home!), I was invited to visit the set of the film but had to decline due to an injury that left me immobile. I was really bummed out. The film had a fantastic cast, the plot sounded promising and it had some serious talent behind the camera as well. The film opened theatrically in the United States and wasn’t very well received. At the 11th hour, the Canadian theatrical run was canned. On October 10th, WISH UPON finally made it’s way to Canada and was released on iTunes, Google Play, VOD, Blu-Ray, and DVD. You know what? I don’t know what all the hate for the film is about because I really enjoyed it. WISH UPON presented itself as a PG -13 tween targeted (or a good beginner horror for those testing the waters) horror-fantasy film that is a riff on the classic tale “The Monkeys Paw” by W. W. Jacobs’s. The film delivered exactly what it said it would and it did it far better than countless others before it.
Clare Shannon (Joey King) witnessed her mothers suicide as a child and her once idyllic life becomes a weathered shell of what it once was. Now a teenager, Clare’s life still strongly exhibits the impact the loss of her mother has had on herself and her father Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe). Clare suffers from horrible nightmares and unaddressed PTSD (in my opinion). Her once bright and well kept family home shows signs of neglect and disarray. Spilling out of the house, onto the porch and lawn is endless amounts of junk that is collected by her dumpster diving hoarder father. Not only does this sadden Clare but it results in embarrassment and fodder for high school bullies. Speaking of high school bullies, Clare is their resident target of abuse. They destroy her work, throw drinks on her and overall make her life hell. Like most teens, Clare would give anything to be rich, popular and adored by the hottest guy in school.
That pipe dream becomes a reality when Jonathan fishes a strange music box from the literal garbage and gives it to Clare as “an early birthday present”. Thanks I guess?. The box is adorned with Chinese writing that speaks of “granting seven wishes”. Currently enrolled in a Chinese language class at school, Clare can’t make out the rest of it but she half heartedly wishes that Darcie the high school bully would “go rot”. With that, the (pandoras) box opens and its gears start turning and Clares wishes become a reality…but they also come at a deadly cost.
The film evolves into a FINAL DESTINATION type film that give some really cool deaths. They aren’t gory, remember, this is a PG-13 film. Instead they rely on jump scares and tension which is even better in my opinion. The film isn’t all doom and gloom because after all, you need some levity to balance out all of the darkness. There is a really funny sub-plot with Jonathan that I won’t spoil but it was certainly a highlight of the film. If a weaker actress had been cast as Clare instead of Joey King the film wouldn’t work. It’s her performance that drives the film.
WISH UPON is at it’s core an extremely competent horror film. its well shot, has great performances and most importantly, it knows exactly what it is. It’s a great beginner horror film, tailor-made for the tween and early teen demographic. Joey King may be young, but she out performs everyone and radiates such depth of character that feels far beyond her years. To sum up the tone of the film, which plays out as a monkeys paw/pandoras box sort of deal, WISH UPON is a perfectly balanced amalgam of FINAL DESTINATION and ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK.
“WISH UPON is at it’s core an extremely competent horror film. its well shot, has great performances and most importantly, it knows exactly what it is.”