What would you do if you had seven wishes? Would you wish for all the wealth in the world? Or would you wish for World Peace? This is the question that is asked in Wish Upon, a film about a girl who is given a Chinese wish box, granting her seven wishes. However with this being a horror, it isn’t quite that straightforward.
The film follows Clare (Joey King) 12 years after her mum committed suicide, of which we see when the film starts as a memory of Clare’s. She is living in the family home with her father, Jonathan (Ryan Phillipe) who spends his days looking through dumpsters and then hoarding anything that could be made in to something else for a profit. Clare is not popular and often bullied at her school. She does have two best friends, June (Shannon Purser) & Meredith (Sydney Park) who seemingly keep her sane. Life seems to be pretty shit for Clare until her father finds a weird looking Chinese box thing and gifts it to her. The box is covered in inscriptions and Clare successfully deciphers one of them as “Seven Wishes”. With seemingly nothing to lose Clare wishes for one of her bullies, Darcie, to “Rot” and just like that we see Darcie waking up to find her legs and face covered in a disease, which later turns out to be necrotizing fasciitis, known as a flesh-eating disease. Later that day Clare is looking for her dog Max, who she then finds in the crawlspace under the house, dead, eaten alive by rats. From here you can kind of see where the film is going.
Clare proceeds to make other wishes, all that have consequences in the form of someone close to her dying. Later in the film more is revealed about the box, where it is from and the power that it has. All of which I will keep from spoiling, obviously. However it is safe to say that when one wish is made, someone has to die. A formula that Clare doesn’t quite grasp hold of throughout the film. This was frustrating because you would think after seeing people dying around you, you would just stop wishing. But then this is a film about seven wishes, so it’s hardly built on realism. So I can forgive the film for not making Clare a bit smarter about her decision making and thought process. What is difficult to understand though, is why each particular person died. There are no obvious links to each person from Clare. Some of them are her friends but there is one death where Clare literally just met the person and didn’t know them. So that kind of throws it “kills the people closest to you” out the window. Later in the film one of the other scribes is deciphered which is far too generic and sheds no further light on why each individual is being killed and not just random strangers. I wish (no pun intended) that the film was a little clearer on this as it may have made clearer thinking for the person making the wishes, knowing what the true sacrifice would be. There is a whole lot of difference between someone randomly dying to those closest to you dying.
What I did like though was the tension in the build-up of each death. It had a Final Destination feel to it, maybe a little too much upon reflection. There is one scene where a sink cutter is stuck, so the person puts their hands in to try and unblock it, while getting extremely close to pressing the button with her hip. It was very tense but then again you could have been mistaken for watching a scene from Final Destination. Perhaps it would have worked better if there was a physical presence involved in the deaths, as in something that only they could see, but yet would still make the deaths appear to be accidental.
It is funny how something can be awesome at first viewing and then once digested can be picked apart. However I really enjoyed the film overall. Ignoring some of the hiccups I’ve mentioned already and some awkward scenes of dialogue, the film really showed just how selfish a person could be if they had seven wishes and only care about their own personal gain. What it lacked in scares it made up in tense, on the edge scenes. During a few of them I was watching behind my hand. Not being the only one doing it made me feel less stupid.
Wish Upon gets a big thumbs up from me. I’d love to know what you think, slingshot me a comment below!