'Wish Upon' is a movie that should be avoided at all costs.
Production Design

‘Wish Upon’ Review: The Only Horror In This Film Is Having To Sit Through It

Wish Upon is an odd combination of a horrible narrative, underdeveloped characters, poor pacing, and campy death scenes that will elicit more groans than scares from the audience.


Any movie reviewer with a conscience should wish that audiences not be subjected to this type of gross attempt at making a horror film. However, if someone in the family is insistent on seeing it, we might as well let everyone know what they are in for. This narrative (and I use the term story loosely) centers around 17-year-old Clare (Joey King) and how her mother’s suicide has turned into a socially repressed individual who is subject to ridicule from her peers. She lives in a dilapidated two story home with junk collection father played by a very weathered looking Ryan Phillippe. Riddled with guilt, her father is always looking for presents to give his daughter and happens to stumble upon an old Chinese music box shaped like an octagon. Of course, Clare just happens to know just enough Mandarin to be able to see that it’s a box which gives seven wishes. She immediately finds this to be ridiculous but still keeps the box closed.

After a particularly exasperating day full of her being teased by her classmates, she comes home and collapses on the bed. She then lets emotions get the best of her and proceeds to wish that Darcie (the meanest girl in school) would “just go rot”. Not only was she shocked that her wish worked, but was taken aback by news that a close friend of her families died at the same time. She chalks it up to some horrid coincidence and moves forward. We then are subjected the long repetitive cycle of grand wishes, less than believable deaths, and melodramatic regret throughout this painful 90-minute film. Audiences are supposed to be invested in whether Clare will ever get rid of the music box but in reality, are just waiting for the film to reach its whimpering conclusion.

Wish Upon

What Worked

The audience seems to enjoy when Clare was hit by a car towards the end of the movie because at least we knew that the end was near.

What Didn’t Work

Why would you eliminate the most interesting elements of the W.W. Jacobs story ‘The Monkey Paw’? Your whole narrative is based on a story that has been used countless times in horror films, and the first decision was to dumb it down? If director John Leonetti wanted to retell that story once more, he should have made sure it was an interesting one to tell.

Ryan Phillippe can’t be this uninteresting on screen. He is supposed to come off as this man who is in mourning and uses his junk collecting as a coping mechanism. In the film, he looks weathered, older, and certainly happy that someone made the error in judgment to cast him.

What was with the use of a bright color palette for 85% of the film? The storyline might have been riddled with issues, but at the very least they could have created the atmosphere which most would expect in this type of film.

The melodramatic moments in the film caused the story to drag on. What was only a 90-minute film, seemed like an eternity.

Screenwriter Barbara Marshall appears to create characters with the sole purpose of being killed off. While I understand that this is supposed to be a horror film, but the audience should have some investment in who these people are.


Broadgreen Pictures made Wish Upon with an extremely lean budget of around $12 million. Even with how bad a film the final product is, there is still an audience of people who will still pay to see this drivel. It is insulting to lump a movie like this in the same genre as Get Out with there being such a contrast in the overall quality of each release. My advice is that if anyone in your family wants to watch a good horror film, go rent Get Out and avoid movies that will leave you bewildered.

Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.
'Wish Upon' is a movie that should be avoided at all costs. 'Wish Upon' Review: The Only Horror In This Film Is Having To Sit Through It