Here are some things that can almost guarantee I watch a film: zombies, sharks, time travel, Diora Baird, and wishes that are granted in deviously twisted ways. So I knew that I would see Wish Upon eventually, despite hearing plenty of negative opinions on it, and it was only the concept that sold me. I was unaware of writer Barbara Marshall. I wasn't exactly blown away by the filmography of director John R. Leonetti (who bagged the Annabelle gig, and scored a hit there). And although I recognise lead actress Joey King, I don't know her well enough to seek out or avoid anything that she stars in.
King plays Clare Shannon, a young girl who isn't doing too well in life. Her schooldays are quite miserable, her father (Ryan Phillipe) spends most of his days scavenging from bins for items to renovate or sell on (I guess), and she gazes lovingly at a hunky fella (Paul, played by Mitchell Slaggert) who hasn't looked her way in years. She does at least have two loyal best friends (played by Sydney Park and Shannon Purser) but not much else. But everything changes when she finds a magical box that grants wishes. Those wishes come at a cost, of course, but Clare has already been seduced by a better life by the time she realises the big picture.
Starting off with an enjoyably twisted wish (Clare just wants someone to rot away), things start subtly enough to allow the film to build and build with each wish. The fact that the main characters go throughout approximately half of the movie just thinking everything is the result of an overdue deluge of good luck is ridiculous, and writer Marshall could have tried harder there, but it's easy to forgive the failings of the film as we start to watch one tease after another, wondering if people will live or die in sequences that wouldn't feel out of place in a Final Destination movie. Admittedly, tension is diluted while viewers can laugh at people sliding their hands into garbage disposal units, moving under cars that are jacked up while a tyre is being changed, or just helping someone go to work on a tree branch with the most unsafe chainsawing set-up possible, but it's all still good fun.
King is okay in the lead role, with Park and Purser both likable enough as her friends, and Slaggert does okay in a role that really sees him unwittingly under the spell of one of the wishes. Ki Hong Lee is also enjoyable enough, playing a student who ends up helping Clare try to solve the mysterious origin of the box. It's odd to see Phillipe in the dad role, despite the fact that he may have been in that age bracket for a few years now, but he does well enough, and Sherilyn Fenn gets some screentime too, which will always make me happy.
Leonetti keeps things pretty teen-friendly, neither elevating nor dragging down the average script, and the concept should please anyone who, like me, already thinks they might derive some pleasure from it. Once past the first third, which sets up the characters and shows the box starting off small before growing and growing, in terms of the price paid for wishes, this provides solid entertainment.
Oh, and if anyone ever makes a movie in which a time travelling zombie shark tries to entrap the soulof Diora Baird by offering her a number of wishes that won't pan out as she wants them to . . . . . . show me where to buy my tickets.
You can buy the film on shiny disc here.
Americans can get the blu here.