Scene & Heard: ‘Wish Upon’ nothing more than generic genre fare

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Joey King stars as Claire, Alice Lee as Gina, and Ki Hong Lee as Ryan in “Wish Upon,” a Broad Green Pictures release. (Photo by Steve Wilkie courtesy of Broad Green Pictures)


By Jared Huizenga – Contributing Writer


Once in a while a horror movie comes along that is so inventive and original that you wonder how the genre made it this far without it.


And then other times you get movies like “Wish Upon.”


High school senior Clare (Joey King) is a bit of an outcast. She spends most of her time with her equally outcast pals, June (Shannon Purser) and Meredith (Sydney Park); is more into her art than going to parties; and lives in an old, semi-rundown home with her father, Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe), who, following the death of his wife, has taken to dumpster diving and selling his wares at swap meets.


Throw in the school’s “mean girls” and the fact that the boy of her dreams doesn’t even know she exists and Clare’s life is, well, pretty typical. But that typical life is thrown for a loop when daddy comes home with a mysterious Chinese wishing box.


As Clare begins to explore the box’s powers, she gets everything she’s ever wanted … but at a cost. With every wish, the spirits at work take something or someone she loves, and when her wishes are gone it will come for her.


In short: girl must decide what she’s willing to surrender to evil forces in order to live the life she thinks she’s always wanted.


These kinds of stories have been around forever, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. And that’s fine, so long as there’s something new brought to the table. However, “Wish Upon” felt like every other “evil spirit inhabitation” I’ve ever seen, but worse. Top of my head, I can think of “possession” stories featuring gingerbread men, board games and VCRs that did this kind of story better.


“Wish Upon” not only lacks originality, but it’s also completely devoid of suspense and terror … it even lacks the jump scares that have become the bedrock of the PG-13 horror movie.


I will say that despite its overall struggles, it ends on a particularly high note – especially the last 5-10 minutes – but I’m not sure it’s worth sitting through the 70+ minutes leading up to that.


If I had one movie wish right now, it would be that the virtually inevitable sequel to this movie never even gets pitched.


★ of ★★★★★


Jared Huizenga is a freelance movie critic. Follow his work at



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Claire (Joey King) opens a gift from her father that will change their lives forever in “Wish Upon,” a Broad Green Pictures release. (Photo by Steve Wilkie courtesy of Broad Green Pictures)