Plot: Clare (Joey King) lost her mother a child and is in the care of her father, a failed jazz musician who dumpster drives in his spare time. Her life at school isn’t much better, as she is bullied by the popular crowd, but she also has some good friends. When her dad finds a beautiful music box in the trash, he gives it to her and while she rejects his garbage gift at first, she soon accepts the strange curio. As it turns out, this is no ordinary music box, as it happens to hold some mystical powers, though Clare doesn’t know that just yet. When a relative dies and leaves her and her father out of the will, she wishes that had gotten some of the inheritance. The music box listens and soon enough, word arrives that the will was misread and in truth, the entire estate has been left to Clare, just as she wished. This sparks a chain of good luck for Clare, who revels in her good fortune, but is there a dark cost for these wishes?
Entertainment Value: A tween spin on the old tale of The Monkey’s Paw, Wish Upon seems content to be a mediocre thriller and does little to stand out in the crowded PG-13 horror crowd. The movie shifts between teen drama and light horror, not landing either side well, so we’re left with an inconsistent, unsatisfying experience. Joey King has the lead and is passable, but never makes you want to root for her to succeed, if anything she is even obnoxious at times. She also seems to on the verge of laughing during scenes that are supposed to be tense. Ryan Phillippe as a dumpster diving jazz musician sounds cool, but he isn’t given much to do. He just shows up, says a few lines in an adequate fashion, then vanishes until he is needed again. The narrative does little to make this well worn story feel fresh, even going with a common, tired final twist. I wouldn’t mind the bad performances and retread narrative if the horror side delivered, but this one has no real scares or even sense of dread. The necrosis one girl is cursed with is kind of cool, but the rest of the wishes are lame and the eventual twists attached to the wishes prove to be dull and forgettable. I couldn’t find much to like with Wish Upon, it is run of the mill and not a movie I would recommend.
No nakedness. This one is aimed at tweens, so you can’t expect wild sex scenes or graphic naked flesh. A little blood, but we never see the violence on screen, just minor splatter or the aftermath. A car accident toward the finale could have been a brutal finish, but instead we are treated to low end, laughable CGI that sends off the movie on a disappointing note. In truth, the horror elements are downplayed and the focus is on Clare’s personal drama. So while more scares and atmosphere would have been nice, this was clearly intended to be a drama with light horror threads. The dialogue has some fun mean girl talk and school drama, but that’s about it. The school’s cruel popular girl is far more interesting than our lead, so those scenes tend to produce the best dysfunction, but they’re rare. The rest of the dialogue is overly serious and forgettable, just mild and mediocre script work. No real craziness either, this one keeps things calm and stable, I suppose because of the tween target demographic involved.
Overall Insanity: 0/10