Blu-ray Review: Wish Upon

By , Contributor
While Wish Upon is no masterpiece of horror, it's an unassuming slice of competent fun that's laced with just enough thoughtfulness to make it stick. That is, it should at least leave an impression with its target demo (teens), especially if they haven't seen many of the similarly-themed films that have gone before (Final Destination, Wishmaster, Wishcraft, to name a few). It bombed in theaters, but that was largely down to timing—Wish Upon didn't belong in the middle of July, competing against the likes of War for the Planet of the Apes, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Despicable Me 3. This is a rainy day, nothing-better-to-do kinda flick, better suited to the small screen. Which is where it will be seen now that Broad Green Pictures has issued it on Blu-ray.

Clare (Joey King) is a high school student with plenty of worries. Her mother (Elisabeth Röhm) committed suicide. Her father (Ryan Phillippe) dumpster dives for a living, often in full view of her peers. Her uncle (Victor Sutton) is rich, but also a creepy eccentric. And she's bullied by mean girl Darcie (Josephine Langford). So when dad finds an antique-looking music box with Chinese writing on it that turns out to grant wishes, Clare has a laundry list of things she wants changed. It takes a number of terrible events for her to realize that for every wish (of seven available) the box grants, a "blood price" is paid. Friend Ryan (Ki Hong Lee) is able to translate this key bit of info from the Chinese characters on the box.

Be careful what you wish for. Again, this is well-worn territory—and neither the best or the worst it has been done. What's interesting about Wish Upon is director John R. Leonetti (Annabelle) and writer Barbara Marshall's refusal to overtly moralize. Sure, the behavior of bullies like Darcie is reprehensible but surely she doesn't deserve flesh-eating bacteria as payback. Clare is at least as terrible in her own superficiality as anyone. As she selfishly indulges her every whim in a bid to become one of the cool, popular chicks, Clare wreaks havoc on her own life as well as everyone around her.

Teens lack impulse control and the reasoning ability to fully understand the consequences of their actions. Wish Upon explores this universal truth in a way that's a lot less silly than it might've been. And Joey King, as she has done in nearly every role she's tackled so far (you'll remember her from The Conjuring, at least), is a young actress who puts an interesting, off-kilter spin on stock characters like Clare.

Broad Green's Blu-ray offers the expected excellent 1080p image and DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix. "I Wish: The Cast Share What They Would Wish," "Directing Darkness: John Leonetti and Cast Talk About Developing a Horror Film," "Attic Tour with Joey King," and "Motion Comics: Lu Mei's Curse and Arthur Sands Reveal The Stories Behind The Previous Owners Of The Box" are bonus featurettes that add value to the package.

Also of note, though not as much as some might hope, the Wish Upon Blu-ray offers a "director's cut" containing material not seen in theaters. What it amounts to is a 90-minute running time expanded to... 91 minutes. Having not seen Wish Upon in theaters, I couldn't say for sure what that big extra minute consists of—suffice it to say the film still plays very much like the PG-13 horror film the theatrical cut is.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is film and music. His new jazz album Good Merlin is now available.

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