Since I can barely contain my own anger, I don’t have time to bury the lead. Over the past few weeks, the Geeks + Gamers film staff released our Best and Worst Films of 2017. Well, we’re not even halfway through the weekend, and already I have a new frontrunner for my worst of the year. Let’s talk about ninety minutes of footage that was somehow cobbled together by the director of Annabelle and, presumably, a barrel full of monkeys and released in theaters as the “movie,” Wish Upon.
Jonathan Shannon (Ryan Phillippe) gives his 17-year-old daughter, Clare (Joey King) an old music box that promises to grant its owner seven wishes. Skeptical at first, Clare becomes seduced by its dark powers when her life starts to radically improve with each wish. Everything seems perfect until she realizes that every wish she makes causes the people who are closest to her to die in violent and elaborate ways. That synopsis right there is literally the only one of two positives that I can say about this pile of garbage. You’re probably wondering how this could possibly be worse than The Bye Bye Man, my previous worst movie of the year. I promise you, the answer will become very obvious after you’ve read Angry Mike’s rant. First, however, let’s at least give some credit where credit is due.
With the exception of the ever awesome Doug Jones and maybe Carrie Anne Moss, Wish Upon has a much better cast than The Bye Bye Man, featuring plenty of young actors with loads of potential. Joey King has been a part of some great films such as The Conjuring, Crazy, Stupid, Love, and the incredibly underrated remake of Going in Style. Here, she does the best that she can with the material she’s given. For all of you Stranger Things fans, Barb actually survives this movie, and Shannon Purser is given a pretty sizable supporting role alongside relative newcomer Sydney Park, who was actually my favorite character as Meredith, one of Clare’s best friends. As far as male characters go, Ryan Phillipe plays a decent father, and I’m very excited to see where Ki Hong Lee’s career takes him.
Alright. At this point, this review stops being a review. Sometimes, I can only just rant about a movie that I hate. In general, I try to be a fairly positive critic who finds the good in movies. However, when there is almost nothing good I can say about a horrible movie, Angry Mike, the rage-filled cynic to my normal optimism, comes out. This rant will contain some spoilers. This rant will not be clean. You have been warned. I doubt many people care about having this godawful flick ruined for them. This is. . . Everything Wrong with Wish Upon (*ding*).
Where do I fucking begin? In case you don’t remember, the headline of my review for The Bye Bye Man implied that that movie was “everything wrong with modern horror.” Here’s the thing. . . that was a January movie, so it was entirely my fault for going in with any sort of expectations. Wish Upon, however, landed right in the middle of the summer and, while the marketing was pretty bad, I left plenty of room for myself to be surprised. I paid the price.
Right at the top of the food chain of things that went wrong with this movie is Clare, our main “protagonist.” This kid is definitely one of the worst new characters of 2017. If she was a real person I’d want to steer clear of her at all costs! The magical music box that her dad found in the dumpster (a worthy metaphor for this movie) grants her seven wishes and almost all of them are incredibly selfish and irresponsible. Timmy Turner, a fucking ten year old from The Fairly OddParents is more responsible with his wishes. The “price” she has to pay for each wish is that someone she’s close to ends up getting killed, and she can’t put two and two together until halfway through the movie. Once she knows the truth, instead of using the rest of her remaining wishes to make things right, she continues acting like a selfish bitch to her friends and family until the movie decides it’s time to wrap things up. There is zero real development or motivation there. I couldn’t even like the damn lead of this mess.
Clare may be at the epicenter of this movie’s issues, but there are so many other things wrong with the screenplay as a whole. I don’t really even know what to say other than that if you’ve seen any of the Final Destination films, you’re basically getting a carbon copy. Like I said earlier, there’s an interesting premise, but movies aren’t about the “what,” they’re about the “how.” In this case, there’s not a single bit of “how” that’s remotely interesting, aside from maybe what caused Clare’s mom to commit suicide during the first few minutes of the film. Perhaps had there been a movie solely about Clare struggling to deal with her mom’s death and what that means for her future, this could have been interesting. I was actually kind of getting into the lore surrounding the mysterious music box until I realized that none of that mattered by the end of the film. What really surprised is that apparently, Barbara Marshall’s screenplay made it onto the 2015 Black List? Honestly, how did she manage that? And, more importantly, why did it have to leave the fucking Black List and be made into this?
To give Marshall some benefit of the doubt, maybe it wasn’t all her fault. Maybe director John R. Leonetti, the hack behind such MASTERPIECES as Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, The Butterfly Effect 2, Wolves at the Door, and of course, Annabelle, hasn’t the slightest clue what he’s doing. Sites like IMDb and Wikipedia say this movie is a horror film, but I didn’t get that impression as I was actually watching it. It is bereft of any sort of tension or atmosphere. I’m not saying that he is a hopeless waste of time, because every film is a new poker hand, but I can suggest that maybe he just step away from the horror genre. After three strikes, I just don’t trust him to tell these kind of stories anymore, because all he knows how to do is shove in every single cliché in the book and call it a day.