The concept of an unassuming object which grants wishes that come with a price dates back to 1902. The Monkey’s Paw is a short story by author W. W. Jacobs. In the story, three wishes are granted to the owner of the monkey’s paw, but the wishes come with enormous consequences for interfering with fate. If that at all sounds familiar it’s likely because the tale has been retold time and time again since. Wish Upon is the latest attempt. Instead of a paw, there is an ancient Chinese music box that grants 7 wishes to its owner. However, with desire comes sacrifice. Someone you know will die every time you ask for something. Use all 7 and the demonic device will consume your very soul.
Clare Shannon, a 17-year old, is haunted by the memory of her mother’s suicide. Her father Jonathan, a former musician and compulsive hoarder who dumpster dives as a hobby, finds a Chinese music box and gives it to her as a gift. Clare deciphers one of the numerous inscriptions on the box as “Seven Wishes,” and absent-mindedly wishes for Darcie, her tormentor and school bully, to “rot,” at which point Darcie develops necrotizing fasciitis and is admitted into the ICU. That same day, Clare’s dog Max dies in her house’s crawlspace after seemingly being eaten alive by rats. Clare realizes that the box grants wishes, but does not understand that her wishes come with consequences.
Following that, Clare continues to make wishes. Being a teenager in high school, she asks for exactly what you’d expect. She wants love, fame, fortune and the box delivers. It continues to take lives in ways that look like accidents. Eventually, an inscription on it reveals the fine print. If Clare continues to ask for what she desires then her soul will be forfeit. However, to give up the box means everything she has gained will be undone. What will Clare do?
I’ll admit it right now, I have a soft spot for these kinds of stories. Don’t get me wrong, Wish Upon delivers the most unimaginative version possible but it’s still enjoyable enough. Seriously though, it would have been nice to see some creativity when it came to what the wishes were. I get that she’s a teenager but it’s just plain predictable and unoriginal. Also, I hate how it isn’t portrayed as creepy that she wishes for a guy to fall in love with her. If that was the other way around you know it wouldn’t be shown in the same way.
I liked how the music box was shown to have learnt from its past experiences. It kills people that are associated with Clare but nobody truly vital. This means she’ll keep using it, none the wiser. In fact, the ways that people are murdered is made to look like a complete accident. These death sequences are quite graphic. Yet, there is little to no gore on show. Either be a horror movie or don’t. Still, I have a sneaky suspicion someone was watching Final Destination before writing the script.
Wish Upon is more mildly entertaining than scary. It creates tension at times but it’s the cheap kind. The hand stupidly reaching into the garbage disposal kind, which actually happens by the way. More often than not, these types of moments made me laugh. Wish Upon attempts to be super serious but I reckon it would have succeeded had it just gone full blown horror comedy. There are a bunch of unintentionally funny scenes, so it’s already half way there. You’ll emotionally check out because Wish Upon does very little to make you actually care about the people that die. You learn next to nothing about anyone.
The acting is rather hit and miss in Wish Upon. Still, Joey King (Clare) is really trying and she does a good job on the whole.
The conclusion of Wish Upon is just downright stupid. Clare is already quite an unlikeable character but her naivety during this is frustrating. She’s fully aware of the rules at that point so she deserves exactly what comes to her. Also, it makes the film feel rather pointless and gives you no reason to watch it again.
Overall, if you’re a fan of these types of stories then there really isn’t anything new to see here. Still, Wish Upon may be unoriginal and uncreative but it didn’t bore me. It won’t set the world on fire but I was entertained for an hour and a half.