Playing with the whole “creepy inanimate object” trope which has seen a resurgence of late, Annabelle
17 year old Clare (Joey King) has not had the easiest upbringing, having witnessed the suicide of her mother aged only five. The teenager has since suffered daily bullying at high school where she is mocked by the popular kids and largely ignored by her longtime crush Paul (Mitchell Slaggert). Her father Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe); a once great musician down on his luck, now resorts to collecting other people’s unwanted possessions and selling them off for profit. One day Jonathan gifts Clare an ancient looking music box which has instruction written on it in Chinese. The box, you guessed it, grants wishes to its owner with devastating consequences for them and those around them.
A conventional horror flick to begin with, where things start to get beyond silly is when the writers start killing off people one by one with a “kill ’em all” directive which could easily rival The Final Destination franchise. As Clare’s luck begins to turn, she enlists the help of childhood friend Ryan (Ki Hong Lee) in order to decipher the meaning behind the inscription on the box and its origins.
Although highly entertaining, Wish Upon sadly looks slapdash and cheap and its storyline, whether deliberate or not, will be met with laughter rather than intrigue. The jumps are more annoying than they are scary, and the dialogue is beyond pedestrian. Marshall’s screenplay never veers off from where you’re expecting to go, which sadly takes the fun out of guessing what happens next. King and Lee, put in fairly adequate performances, as does Sydney Park as school friend Meredith, while Phillippe, whose acting abilities are usually faultless, is largely let down by a badly written part which gives him very little to work with.
Wish Upon’s entertainment value cannot be denied if you read it as a comedy horror, but the film is ultimately let down by an unimaginative script and a cast who don’t quite know whether to play it for laughs or scares. On the whole, the film will raise more frustrated groans than genuine fear from savvy horror fans, but may just perform well at the box-office judging by the way Annabelle was received.
Leonetti, a usually rather brilliant cinematographer, here fails to bring anything of value to the direction, misjudging the tone, while opting for the most obvious tropes in the absence of anything of substance. Funny this may be, but for all the wrong reasons.
Wish Upon is released on July 28th.