By Kurt Jensen
NEW YORK (CNS) — The low-budget Faustian fable that is “Wish Upon” (Broad Green) has a bullied teen girl fulfilling her earthly desires for vengeance, money, popularity and a surprisingly chaste romance in exchange for maybe her mortal soul.
Anyway, fulfillment using a mysterious Chinese “wish box” that grants seven of ’em is a double-edged sword. Every time Clare (Joey King) asks for something, she gets it, but someone else close to her has to die. Them’s the terms.
The character as written is hardly morally bereft — Clare is just trying to get along, and she’s still traumatized from having witnessed her mother’s suicide by hanging in the attic — but she’s a little dimwitted, too.
Clare takes a long time to catch on that this enameled box — a music box, in fact — is granting her wishes, and by the time it’s explained to her by a Chinese-American pal, she’s already five wishes into the deadly bargain.
Since her mother’s death, Clare’s father, Jonathan (Ryan Philippe), a sometimes musician, has been reduced to working as a trash picker in search of antiques, much to her embarrassment.
One day he brings home said box, for which the provenance is unknown. Clare, who just got into a cafeteria fight with one of her school’s mean girls, holds the box while expressing the hope that this girl should just rot away. Soon enough, the meanie does just that with a sudden case of the necrotizing fasciitis, known as the flesh-eating disease.
The plot meanders along this path for quite a while, with Clare getting her late uncle’s inheritance, and both she and her father achieving that all-important peer-group popularity as others meet their doom in a bathtub, a garbage disposer, an implied impalement and a runaway elevator. On this film’s budget, the splatter factor virtually ceases to be.
Director John Leonetti and screenwriter Barbara Marshall make the best of what they have, but each plot point and its resolution are telegraphed so blatantly, there’s no suspense.
The film contains fleeting gore and fleeting rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.