Wish Upon is a thrilling, chilling and genuinely funny horror film for teenagers and people who appreciate a particularly rugged-looking Ryan Phillippe.
It centers on Claire (Joey King), an angsty teen dealing with her mother’s suicide, her father’s (Phillipe) failing finances, and the genuine hatred she gets from her high school peers.
She finds a mysterious box covered in ancient Chinese writing while out hunting for scraps – think sheet metal, car parts – with her father. With a rudimentary understanding of Chinese, she deciphers the box grants her seven wishes.
In a particularly dark later scene, we learn the wishes come with a catch: for each wish, a ‘blood price’ must be paid.
Thus sets in motion a series of PG-13 appropriate, gruesome scenes, which are juxtaposed with Claire’s newfound good fortune. Her family is suddenly rich, she’s the most popular girl in school, and she’s dating a hot jock.
All the while a blond girl’s body rots (face first), a girl impales herself on an inanimate object, and, most devastatingly, her dog dies.
The box starts to take a trancelike hold on Claire, who keeps making wishes even after she knows she’s endangering her friends and family. This all builds to an at once tense and surprising climax.
Wish Upon is tightly written and full of laughs. It knows the value of blending humor with horror, and I found myself holding in snorts of laughter so as not to distract from the events on screen. I have a weird laugh.
This one will live in cult infamy. It’s both classic and entirely modern – a snappy new take on movies like Final Destination and Paranormal Activity. With any luck we’ll get an equally-strong sequel before next Summer.