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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

When Clare was but a mere tyke, she saw life through a carefree, joyful lens. But then she followed noises up to the attic just in time to see her mom hang herself.

Twelve years later, Clare is a lot less carefree.

These days, she lives in a rundown, junk-filled house that her dumpster-diving dad has filled with stacks and piles of refuse. On top of that, she's something of a pariah at school: She's teased for her oddness, her Goodwill clothes and, well, her trash-picker pop. Let's just say Clare's not one to believe that wishes come true.

Then, however, Dad happens to find this rather ancient-looking music box while rummaging through a trash bin near a stylish home. He gives it to Clare for her birthday. She can't actually get the thing to open, but it sure looks cool with its engraved Chinese symbols and ornate design.

And it just so happens that Clare is also kinda into Chinese. So when she determines that a few of the symbols on the box promise seven free wishes, she starts to think this piece of junk might be a cooler gift then she first thought.

And on a silly whim, she makes a silly wish.

And lo and behold, that silly wish comes true.

And Clare is slightly amazed.

Of course, the teen isn't convinced that the music box caused her wish to come true. But she did dream, late at night after she had made the wish, that the box had opened on its own and played a pling-plang tune. And even that is something cool and new in a life that's generally not been what you'd call, uh, peachy.

However, if Clare were a much more learned sort, someone actually able to read ancient Chinese instead of just piecing together the basic meaning of a cryptic symbol or two, she might not be quite so excited. For woven into those graceful Chinese characters is a warning: Each new wish comes with a steep price, a debt can only be paid … in blood.

Positive Elements

If looked at with a particular squint, this film could be seen as offering a cautionary note about wishing for fleeting, trivial or selfish things. It also raises questions about making choices you know may ultimately harm others. After finding out about Clare's wish box and the harm it had caused, for instance, Clare's friend June asks, "Aren't you a bad person if you keep it?"

Spiritual Content

It's eventually revealed that the box's original owner used it to contain a demonic entity. This creature kills someone dear to the wish-maker for every wish granted. In addition, the demon will eventually take the wisher's soul. The box also plays magically on its own and is protected from damage by the same supernatural power.

Granted wishes range from bestowed riches, to the curse of a rotting skin disease, to the manipulation of time.

Sexual Content

Clare's good friend Meredith sometimes wears formfitting and midriff-baring tops. A guy offers to help Clare in exchange for a sexually revealing photo. Clare and a guy named Paul make out.

A friendly female neighbor suggests that Clare needs to find a nice boy or girl to help her feel more comfortable with herself. A young woman named Darcie wakes up in her bedroom after, it's implied, a pretty wild party: several friends, of both sexes, are unconscious and scattered around her room.

Violent Content

Wish Upon majors in lingering looks at agonizing, bloody deaths. A woman's hair gets yanked forcefully enough to snap her neck. An old man cracks his head open on the side of a bathtub and then drowns while bleeding profusely. We see a picture of a man who shot himself in the forehead. As noted above, Clare's mother hangs herself as her daughter witnesses that suicide.

A young woman crashes to the bottom floor of a hotel in a hurtling elevator and is impaled on glass and metal debris. A pet is gutted and gnawed upon by rats. A teen slashes his wrists. A girl gets hit by a speeding SUV and sent catapulting 30 feet or so, where she smashes into another vehicle's windshield. A man has his head lopped off by a dropped chainsaw. (The actual decapitation remains just outside the camera's view, though the ensuing bloody results do not.) Similarly, a young woman slips and impales her head, face-first (in shadowed silhouette), on a long, pointed object.

Less gruesome violence includes two women tangling in a face-slapping, punch-and-tumble brawl. Clare is purposely knocked off her bike and gets a bloody gash on her knee when she hits the curb. Someone is covered in bruises and a bloody, rotting skin disease. A teen gets pushed and falls down a short flight of stairs. A man barely misses being run over by two speeding vehicles and has a hurtling tire knock him down.

Crude or Profane Language

Between dialogue and the movie's soundtrack, this pic packs one f-word, three s-words and uses of "a--," "d--n," "h---," "b--ch" and "b--tard." Jesus' name is exclaimed twice, and God's is misused more than a dozen times. There's one obscene gesture.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Clare's Dad and his friend drink beer. It's suggested that some teens have been drinking alcohol at a party.

Other Negative Elements

Teens have a joking conversation about passing gas when they were kids.


The blurb for this horror pic is: "Be careful what you wish for!" But if you want to be really truthful, this isn't a film about wishes anyway. Oh, sure, there are wishes made here. But they're frivolous and predictable—nothing even remotely thoughtful from a dramatic perspective.

No, the wishes here aren't creative in the least. The same can't be said, however, of Wish Upon's macabre fixation with creative death-dealing.

Like the Final Destination movies of the early 2000s, the main thrust of Wish Upon is the popcorn-munching "joy" of viewers who know that someone in a small group of characters is going to die, then guessing who it will be and anxiously awaiting the gruesome means by which they'll be slaughtered.

Will it be the woman with her hand in the garbage disposal who's leaning precariously close to that stupidly placed electrical switch? Or the guy crawling under that car with the teetering tire jack? Will we see a head lopped off? Will we yell at the screen 'cause everybody seems so ridiculously clueless?

Yes. The answer to every one of those questions is ultimately yes. Every question, that is, except the one that asks, "Will I enjoy this stylized, quasi-snuff film?" An affirmative answer to that query requires someone with a grim wish list indeed regarding the things they enjoy wasting their money on.

Of course, for those moviegoers all I can do is give you the same warning this pic does: Be careful what you wish for.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Joey King as Clare Shannon; Ryan Phillippe as Jonathan Shannon; Sydney Park as Meredith McNeil; Ki Hong Lee as Ryan Hui; Shannon Purser as June Acosta


John R. Leonetti ( )


Orion Pictures



Record Label



In Theaters

July 14, 2017

On Video

October 10, 2017

Year Published



Bob Hoose

Content Caution

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