What would you do if you had seven wishes?
I guess if you’re a teenage girl, then you’d wish for popularity, the star quarter-back to fall for you and enough money to drive a convertible and shop at Valentino. Sound familiar? It’s a lot like Teen Witch (I know, wonderful film) and The Craft.
This is my round about way of saying that there are elements in Wish Upon that are kind of traditional. In that sense, it feels like what I like to call an entry level horror film. It’s rated PG -13, so it’s the kind of film that you can watch that’s scary or creepy, but not too terrifying. It’s fairly safe for those of you who want a scare, but don’t want nightmares.
It’s the story of Claire, a teenager who saw her mother commit suicide when she was very young. She’s an outsider, along with her two best friends, and though she has to put up with the school queen bee being a total, um, B, she doesn’t take crap from anyone. She lives with her Dad (Ryan Phillippe) who she loves but who embarrasses her with his obsessive collecting of junk he scavenges, and she has a huge crush on the high school heart throb who doesn’t know she’s alive.
But all of that is about to change. Her father comes across a Chinese box on one of his forays into people’s bins, which Claire discovers purports to grant wishes to it’s owner. She thinks it’s just a cute trinket until she makes a wish, just for fun, and it comes true. But what she doesn’t realise at first is that for every wish that she makes, someone dies. Someone close to her.
And the deaths are kind of reminiscent of those scenes in Final Destination, you know where the person is just doing something ordinary, but you know how much danger they’re in. And there’s these great misdirects where you think that one kitchen appliance will be the death of them, but it turns out to be another. For a simple film, there is some really great tension built in these scenes.
There are scarier horror films out there but this one takes you on a decent ride. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and has light moments with lots of humour. I know that the teen drama has been done a lot, but there’s something satisfying about it all the same, seeing the girl get the guy, the mean girl get hers, and then it all going pear shaped. It’s not original in that sense, but it’s entertaining none the less. And of course, it’s kind of interesting to see how all the wishes will be twisted and go bad, turning against Claire. As she starts to understand what’s really happening, there are times when you, and the people around her, wonder what her deal is. Her wishes are more and more selfish as she becomes trapped in her life, her reliance on the life that the box has created her her. Can she let it go? Will it let her go?
The supporting cast make the movie . It’s nice to see Ryan Phillippe again, and he is lovely in this film, sometimes sweet, sometimes awkward, often sweetly funny. Sherilyn Fenn turns up as an old friend of the family, a surrogate mother to Claire who makes her juice and asks her about boys, and then dies a horrible death. And in typical form, Shannon Purser is the warm and vulnerable best friend, like her turns in Stranger Things and Riverdale, which she does so well.
The film functions as a dark fairytale, and though there’s a lot about it that goes along genre lines. It does lag a little in the middle, where it seems to get a bit bogged down, but over all, it’s fun and creepy, with plenty of deaths but not reliant on gore.
Wish Upon is out 28th July