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Wish Upon (2017)

Broadgreen Pictures
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/10/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/10/2017

You don't have to write for Variety or The Hollywood Reporter to know that it's tough to break into the movie industry -- and by that I mean any level, not just as an actor. When it comes to directing, it often feels as if young filmmakers come out of nowhere and are suddenly helming major motion pictures. But, there are also those who toil behind the scenes for years, studying the craft and waiting for their turn. For example, stuntman David R. Ellis worked behind the scenes for 20 years before he got his first chance to direct and with 2003's Final Destination 2, he proved that he'd been paying attention. (He also made Snakes on a Plane, but we won't talk about that.) Similarly, John R. Leonetti has worked in Hollywood as a Director of Photography since 1988. But, it wasn't until 2014 that he got his real shot at the big time with Annabelle. (Yes, I know that he had directed things before that.) Now, he continues his foray into the world of horror with Wish Upon.

Clare Shannon's (Joey King) life is not what you would call great. As a child, she witnessed her mother committing suicide. Now, she and her father (Ryan Phillppe) live in a dilapidated house filled with junk which he takes from dumpsters. At school, Clare is bullied by the popular kids, but she does have two close friends, June (Shannon Purser) and Meredith (Sydney Park). One days, her father brings home a strange box which is covered in Chinese writing. While holding it, Clare wishes harm on one of the bullies. The next day, she is surprised to learn that her wish has come true. Curious, Clare makes another wish and it comes true. She then begins to change her life for the better, using the power of the box. But, Clare soon learns that her newfound power comes with an awful price.

Wish Upon comes from Writer Barbara Marshall, who also penned last year's Viral. That was a horror film which focused on female characters and showed some good ideas, but was hampered by a lack of originality. Marhsall falls into the exact same trap with Wish Upon, a movie which is filled with content that is far from fresh. The main premise is very reminiscent of The Monkey's Paw or any story where someone is granted access to wishes, but soon learns that said wishes come with a price. The movie introduces us to a scenario where Clare's wishes actually grant her what she desires -- there aren't any clever tricks where she gets a version of her wish -- but, as noted above, the wishes carry consequences. The one interesting note here is that Clare begins to exhibit the signs of addiction as it relates to her wishing, going as far as stating that she can quit at any time.

There is also a very large part of Wish Upon which is a direct ripoff of the Final Destination movies. In short, when Clare makes a wish, we know that something bad is going to happen to someone. The question becomes who and then how. This leads to a number of scenes which play out exactly like the familiar moments from Final Destination, in which a person or persons, are placed in a situation where they are surrounded by potentially dangerous items and we must wait to see what is going to happen. The last Final Destination movie came out in 2011. Did the makers of Wish Upon assume that their teenaged target audience had already forgotten that franchise. One thing's for sure, the scenes here provide some suspense, but they are nowhere near as clever as those found in the Final Destination series.

So, what we get with Wish Upon is what may be the quintessential mediocre PG-13 horror movie. It delivers a story which is overly familiar, some mild gore and suspense, and average acting. The plot remains steadfastly straight-forward, although I must confess that the part concerning Clare's dad being embarrassing was a bit confusing. I did like that her dad became a hoarder, as their does fall in line with the psychology of someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one. And the finale does wrap things up nicely. Leonetti does a nice job of shooting the film and the pacing is good, I just wish that he had been working with a better script.

Wish Upon can't seem to decide how it feels about saxophones on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Broadgreen Pictures. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is notable and we get very good depth in most shots. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The suspenseful scenes provide impressive surround and stereo effects, which offer individual sounds from the rear speakers on occasion. The stereo effects demonstrate noises coming from off-screen. The subwoofer effects add presence to the shocking moments.

The Wish Upon Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. "I Wish" (3 minutes) is a brief promotional featurette in which the actors explain the story amongst a sea of clips. "Attic Tour with Joey King" (2 minutes) has the actress showing us around the set which is prominently featured in the film. "Directing Darkness" (3 minutes) only contains a few comments from Leonetti. "Motion Comics" (4 minutes) offers two brief semi-animated features that give us background on the story.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long