“Wish Upon” – a drinking game waiting to happen.

Sometimes I’m too lazy for a full-out piece. Sometimes everything I’ve got to say about a film can be summarized in a sentence or two. Sometimes it’s both. So herewith, a quick-n-dirty on…Wish Upon!

Nutshell: It’s fun when a horror movie gets you to laugh because it’s funny on purpose.  Not so much when a tired bunch of creators toss out a film that’s so poorly conceptualized that laughter comes along when it really shouldn’t.  Perhaps this could be a great drinking game film, but right now this tired mess of jump-scares and overused cliches just doesn’t jell.  Points for not punking out at the end, and for casting actors I enjoy. Which are the only two reasons why this film gets more than a shrug from me. Grade: D

Before: Sweeeeet – a horror movie screening I can actually get to!  And the trailer looks kinda cool.  I do love wish-fulfillment horror films.  I’m so in!

During: Ryan Phillippe! Ki Hong Lee! Elisabeth Röhm! Sherilyn Fenn!!! I’m digging the cast. And the start of this film is really intriguing; great use of a prologue opener.

Flash forward to…I guess years later?  Little blonde kid has gone brunette, guess we’re just supposed to shrug and say “that happens sometimes”.  Joey King plays put-upon Carrie White Level High School Loser well.  She’s making the child-actor-to-grownup-actor well.  But she might be too good for this film.

She’s definitely too good for this film.  So are all the other folks I mentioned earlier.  Why?  Because this film is just the usual “wait, wait, here…aaaand, BOOM!” horror I’ve seen a million times.  But it feels like director John R. Leonetti (Annabelle) is asleep at the wheel.  Doesn’t help that the screenplay feels cobbled together, or maybe it’s that the film itself is so poorly edited the story ends up jumpy.  Great when an audience is jumpy, not so much when the story is.  I expected better from Terra Nova writer Barbara Marshall.

Joey King is MOST DEFINITELY too good for this film.  She’s acting her heart out, and delivering an amazing performance.  But as girl-with-a-wish-box Clare, her character goes from sympathetic sadsack to USDA Grade-A moronic asshole with the flip of a switch.  There’s no rhyme or reason for the character’s switcheroo, except for a tossed-off “it’s making you crazy!” comment by Lee’s poor skater boi Ryan.  Perhaps if the effects of the box were covered a bit more, it would feel like a natural progression…but nope.

So much unintentional humor; the strange mashup of poor editing, bad dialogue and sudden character shifts makes the deaths that happen here a joke instead of horrific. The audience at this screening guffawed so many times that I’m sure people passing our theater thought we were watching a comedy.  If only.

After: I do like that Clare wishes for stupid stuff that most high-school kids would wish for.  She acts on impulse, which feels real.  Unfortunately, the film never takes the time to play anything out, opting instead for jumping from wish/death to wish/death with reckless aplomb.  Whee! #sarcasm

While it was fun to see Phillippe, Fenn, Röhm and Lee on the big screen?  I can’t help thinking about the film this could have been.  A film where Clare acts less out of reflex, and more out of a slow build of character development.  A film where Clare is surrounded by people who are more than just bodies to be killed off (the deaths are supposed to happen to people she care about, but one character only speaks to Clare once.) A film that actually engaged its audience, rather than simply grabbing things that are “shocking” and throwing ’em onscreen.

I can’t believe this film made the Black List 2015 winners list.  Sure, it’s last on the list, but it’s on there.  Makes me wish I could read that original script.  Gotta be better than what actually made it on screen.

For hate-watching and drinking-game viewing only.

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