By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Uninspired horror movie has shallow characters, few scares.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
"Be careful what you wish for" is the most obvious theme, but teens may also find themselves repulsed by the main character's selfish behavior and think twice about being greedy and thoughtless. Social media trolling is the norm. A shopping/spending spree is celebrated.
Positive Role Models
Nothing here but a host of extremely shallow, forgettable characters. Characters callously take videos and photos with their phones rather than help friends in need.
Violence & Scariness
Gruesome deaths. Head injury with blood swirling in bathwater. Garbage disposal death. Elevator crash. Car crash. Impalement. Chainsaw slicing, with blood splatter. A girl's mother commits suicide by hanging. A teen slits their wrists. Other mentions and images of suicide. A slapping, shoving, wrestling fight between two teen girls. Violent zombie-killing smartphone game. Rotting flesh. Dead dog with guts shown. Jump scares. Creepy images during closing credits.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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A use of "f--king." Uses of "s--t," "bitch," "bastard," "t-t," "damn," "crap," "hell," "ass," "smegma." "Oh my God" and "Jesus" as exclamations.
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Products & Purchases
A character wears a Vans T-shirt and hat. Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink several beers in more than one scene, with no consequences. Mention of opium.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wish Upon is a teen horror movie with a "be careful what you wish for" theme. There are many gruesome deaths, with blood spatters, impalements, and crashes. Other violent content includes suicides (via hanging and cut wrists), teen fighting, a dead dog with its guts coming out, a violent video game, and jump scares. Teens kiss; language includes a use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bitch," "bastard," and more. Adult characters drink beer in more than one scene, with no consequences, and opium is mentioned. With shallow characters and uninspired horror scenes, this is one of those instantly disposable movies that seem to exist only to cash in on an opening weekend before disappearing into oblivion.
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Videos and Photos
Based on 6 parent reviews
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What's the Story?
In WISH UPON, miserable high schooler Clare Shannon (Joey King) lives with her junk-scavenging father (Ryan Phillippe) and suffers from nightmares about her mother's suicide. One day, her father presents her with a weird box. Clare makes a wish that the pretty blonde school bully will "rot," and it comes true. Curious, she then wishes that the school hunk will fall in love with her, and it happens. Soon Clare and her father move into a mansion, and their money troubles are over. But all around her, people -- and her beloved dog, Max -- start dying. With the help of childhood friend Ryan (Ki Hong Lee), Clare begins to translate the box's Chinese symbols and discovers that there are high prices to pay for her wishes. But can she stop?
Is It Any Good?
This modern-day, teen-centric take on W. W. Jacobs's classic horror story The Monkey's Paw is a not-scary dud that suffers from both uninspired scares ad extremely shallow, annoying characters. "What's wrong with you?," characters keep asking Clare -- and viewers are likely to be wondering the same thing. Screenwriter Barbara Marshall (Terra Nova) and director John R. Leonetti (Annabelle) fail to paint Clare as a truly desperate character: She's cute, she has two best friends, a home, a loving father, and so on. Her life isn't terrible enough to risk everything on deadly wishes, and it's hard to root for her.
Frankly, it's pretty easy to despise her, especially when she goes on a materialistic shopping spree while family, friends, and neighbors are dying all around her. And while those scenes could have been clever, Final Destination-type moments, full of menacing surprise, instead they're dumb exercises in waiting for the inevitable. Wish Upon vacillates between asking us to care for its characters and inviting us to enjoy the scary stuff, and that inability to take a stand gets it nowhere.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Wish Upon's violence. Are the killings shocking, or do they make you want to laugh/squeal? How does the movie achieve this effect? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of scary movies?
Is Clare a good person, or is she selfish and shallow? Why does she make the decisions she makes? Are there any role models here?
If you'd found the box, would you have wished for anything? Would your wishes have been for yourself or for others? What does "be careful what you wish for" mean?
What role does technology play in the teen characters' lives? Do they use it responsibly?
- In theaters: July 14, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: October 10, 2017
- Cast: Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Ki Hong Lee
- Director: John R. Leonetti
- Studio: Broad Green Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violent and disturbing images, thematic elements and language
- Last updated: April 5, 2023
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