Saturday, July 15, 2017

Review of WISH UPON: Perks for a Price

July 15, 2017

Because of her father's job as a junkman, Clare Shannon was not a popular girl at school. One day, while going through the trash of an old mansion, her father Jonathan recovered an antique heptagonal box with ancient Chinese characters carved on it and gave it to Clare. Since then, Clare realized that everything she was wishing for while holding the box was coming a reality. However, Clare would soon also realize that just as one wish came true, someone related to her would die a gruesome death. 

We saw child actress Joey King grow up on the screen in films like "Ramona and Beezus" (2010), "The Conjuring" (2013) and "White House Down" (2013) and "Independence Day: Resurgence" (2016), usually playing plucky spirited young girls. In this latest film, she is already 18 years old. I thought she was able to handle this lead role of Clare as a bullied, broken, confused teenager convincingly, even if her character was made to do very petty wishes and stupid decisions (like most teenage horror movie characters do). 

In an interesting bit of casting, 90s film heartthrob Ryan Phillippe played Clare's slovenly blue collar dad Jonathan. He gets to show off his saxophone playing here in a weird side story that never prospered. Even more interesting was the casting of 80s buxom bombshell Sherilyn Fenn as a frumpy, lonely neighborhood widow Ms. Deluca. Her contrived death scene was one case of prolonging the inevitable.

The Chinese angle we see in many Hollywood films lately is very much played up here. Clare is studying Mandarin in school, so she knew how to read basic Chinese and even knew how to text in Chinese on her phone. The wish box had mysterious Chinese characters on it, so they had a Chinese girl Gina (Alice Lee) to help Clare interpret the ancient text. Of course, Gina had to have all sorts of odd Chinese knickknacks in her apartment, one of which will figure in another long-winded death scene.

What might get Asian viewers excited is that this is one of the rare times that Hollywood chose an Asian boy to be the Caucasian lead character's knight-in-shining-armor (on a skateboard). However, even though the character Ryan Hui is supposed to Chinese, he is played by Korean actor Ki Hong Lee (whom we have seen before as Minho in "Maze Runner"). While his character Ryan is supposed to be a high school student, actor Ki is already 30 years old in real life. 

The horror in this film is all about the "Final Destination" style slow-cook, graphically violent death scenes. Their long set up already pretty much tells us how the victims were going to die (though they can still make you squirm and cover your eyes, mind you), making the actual death anti-climactic. Director John R. Leonetti (who previously directed "Butterfly Effect 2" and "Annabelle") tried to pump up the suspense one time by having two precarious situations happening at the same time to keep the audience guessing. 

This is basically a typical teenage high-school bullying drama. All the elements are there. Of course, there's going to be a mean girl bully Darcie (Josephine Langford). Of course, there's going to be a handsome jock crush Paul (Mitchell Slaggert). Of course, there are a couple of loyal girlfriends Meredith and June (Sidney Park and Shannon Purser). It works mainly because of Joey King's involving performance as Clare. 

Too bad though that Leonetti had not been more imaginative telling us about the box. The history of the box in China could have been explored more visually than just reading it off an article on the internet. It was unconvincing how they were able to trace the owners of the box in the US.  Being the central character of horror in this film, the box deserved a better introduction and development. 5/10.


  1. So it is kinda of a big cliché? I am not a big fan of horror movies but why not giving a go at this one. Thanks for the review! xx corinne

  2. Horror is just not my interest,but nice review. Especially what you say about a Chinese angle in Hollywood movies. quite noticeable.

  3. Oh gosh, not a horror movie please. Ha ha, I'm not a fan of scary movies unless it's the "Scary Movie" junk. Good to know you rated it according to what you think it deserved.

  4. I think the movie began to pique the viewers' curiosity but then it didn't continue with the same momentum. The characters may be interested to look, but I'm not so much a fan of graphically violent death scenes.

  5. It seems like a pretty cliche storyline, but I can't recall the exact title of a similar movie that i'm thinking of. Anyhow, I'm not too keen on horror movies myself so i'll pass.

  6. Though you rate this film 5/10 I might still watch this as I love watching horror films though most films has common story I still watch it lol

  7. I thought with the box that her father has given her, Clare would have a better future as she wishes upon it. But the plot turns it so... it becomes a horrified kind of story. It is thrilling indeed. How I wish I could watch it.

  8. I nearly got to watch this movie but had an event to attend instead. It was good to know that I didn't miss out much even though I will very much want to know more about the Chinese characters and watch Ki Hong!

  9. From the director of Annebelle??!!! If I hadn't read your review I'd have assumed this to be at par with Conjuring or Annabelle! Too bad

  10. This movie seems like a creepy one. It seems to deliver the message that the girl`s actions had dire consequences received by others. It`s as if it`s telling the viewers to watch out in everything they do.

    I don`t like horror movies. When I heard about Conjuring, I didn`t even want to know the story. Horror movies are meant to scare and/or creep you out which I don`t want to feel since I have a wide imagination about creepy theories.

    ❀ Grace ❀