Susan Granger’s review of “Wish Upon” (Broad Green Pictures/Orion Pictures)
One doesn’t often see horror pictures released in the middle of summer, but perhaps filmmakers figured that this $12 million supernatural thriller might turn a profit even before its DVD release in the fall.
Still traumatized by the suicide of her mother (Elizabeth Rohm) when she was a youngster, 17 year-old Clare Shannon (Joey King), along with her friends Meredith McNeil (Sydney Park) and June Acosta (Shannon Purser), is having a tough time in high school.
So when her dumpster-diving dad, Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe), gives her an old, octagonal Chinese music box with an inscription that promises to grant its owner’s seven wishes, she’s intrigued.
Clare’s first wish is that her nasty nemesis, Darcie Chapman (Josephine Langford), would “just go rot.” Sure enough, the next day, mean girl Darcie develops a ghoulish necrotizing fasciitis. Then one of her acquaintances inexplicably dies.
Predictably, Clare goes on to wish for a large inheritance, instant popularity and the affection of a hunky jock, Paul Middlebrook (Mitchell Slaggert), as gruesome deaths mysteriously mount up.
Eventually, Clare asks a nerdy admirer named Ryan Hui (Ki Hong Lee) and then his cousin (Alice Lee) to decipher the Mandarin lettering on the malevolent box. That’s when Clare realizes that her selfish wishes are actually killing people.
Scripted by Barbara Marshall (“Viral”) and directed by longtime cinematographer John R. Leonetti (“Annabelle”), it’s a simplistic adaptation of W.W. Jacobs’ 1902 story “The Monkey’s Paw,” in which a cursed artifact gives its owner three wishes, each of which exacts a dreadful punishment.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Wish Upon” is a twisted 3, proving there’s always a price to be paid.