A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 ...
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: September 20, 2019
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