After Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), Butterfly Effect 2 (2006) and Annabelle (2014), it’s now official: John R. Leonetti is among the worst horror directors ever!
Mind you, I never go into a flick wishing (no pun intended) it’s awful. As a matter of fact, I’m quite excited whenever I watch a film, even when the synopsis sounds laughably bad. Sure, I have my opinions on certain subjects or directors, but I try not to be biased while watching a film. For instance, I’m not the biggest fan of Andy Muschietti, but I can’t deny IT is one of the best horror films of the year and that he made a pretty great job with the material he had to work with.
All of this boring and self-referential intro is to explain that, no matter how hard I tried to find redeeming qualities in Wish Upon, this is a God-awful movie.
Firstly, the plot is taken by an episode of the Goosebumps TV series – Be Careful What You Wish For – which is more entertaining than Leonetti’s movie, despite the TV series campiness and the fact that it was made for children.
17-year-old Claire (Joey King) is bullied at school, unpopular and unlucky with boys; until her father gives her a Chinese wish box. Claire uses it to wish for a better school life but soon enough discovers that every desire she tells the box requires a blood payment and people around her die inexplicably.
Before going into the analysis of technical flaws, let me just state that the script is highly stupid, almost downright offensive.
Claire, the character we are supposed to root for, discovers she has 7 wishes at her disposal and decides to use them to harm school rivals, get the boyfriend of her dreams, gain popularity. Not even once she thinks about, I don’t know, wish for world peace? End of terrorism? Nicolas Cage for President of the World?
Seriously, though, her character has been written so badly and that’s entirely Barbara Marshall’s fault and her dumb script.
Besides a terrible person as the lead and a silly script, Leonetti’s direction of Wish Upon is totally formulaic and aims to naïve horror viewers. For example, I counted the horror tropes (dog sensing things, dark shades moving around, lights out for no reason…) utilised in the movie: twenty-four! Basically, this flick rips off everything that has been done, with better results, in previous movies.
Plus, the soundtrack is mundane at best. It doesn’t match the tone of the movie and seems more suitable for a straight to television rom-com.
Even the colour scheme is generic and uninspired: this film uses a bluish tone throughout, a la The Ring, that should make us feel in danger, while the only feeling I got from this movie was boredom.
Also, other than an unintentionally laughable scene (a slap-fight in school between two girls), Wish Upon doesn’t even belong to the ‘so bad, it’s good’ category. Which is something that could have made this movie slightly enjoyable!
As a scary movie, Leonetti’s work fails on every level possible: throughout the entire runtime, there isn’t a single tense moment, a single effective jump-scare. Gore and violence? Forget about it. As a PG13 flick, Wish Upon doesn’t even dare using those techniques.
In conclusion, add the aspects mentioned above with some product placement and a few unimaginative deaths, and you’ll get a soulless, money-grabbing flick with no redeeming quality whatsoever. I feel sorry about being so hard on this movie, but that’s what it deserves. Cheers!