A teenage girl discovers a box that carries magic powers and a deadly price for using them.
So it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a movie on this level of cringe-worthy badness. I’m not one that likes to bash movies, so I won’t. I will, however, share my thoughts with you, should you make the awful decision to watch this would-be horror movie. What seems like a cross between “The Monkey’s Paw” and “Final Destination,” quickly becomes an unintentional dark comedy.
The story surrounds Joey King’s character Clare, who at a young age, witnesses her mother commit suicide, to everyone’s unexpected surprise. We then flash forward to her as a bullied teenager in high school, living with her dumpster-diving father Jonathan, played by Ryan Phillippe. She’s the outcast awkward girl in school, with no real friends other than her two best friends…but all that changes the day her father finds a mysterious box with artsy Chinese décor and lettering in the trash. Being that Clare is an artist like her mother, he decides to give it to her as an early birthday gift. Coincidentally, Clare has been studying the Chinese language and is able to decipher that it was a wish box. After being humiliated by the high school bully, she makes her first wish, which comes to life with horrifying results. From there, she continues to make wishes in an attempt to transform herself into the rich popular girl she wants to be, even going so far as to get the High School “hot guy” to fall in love with her. Of course, these wishes come at a price, as every wish requires a blood sacrifice and people around her start dropping like flies. This doesn’t sway her in the least, as she continues to make wishes..down to her final 7th wish and as expected, that comes with a great price as well.
The acting across the board is subpar, with only one stand out really, that of best friend Meredith, played by Sydney Park, she was full of charisma that was more than enough for the defunct cast. Joey’s Clare was overly mopey and emo to the max, carrying over the trope of our ever so loved millennial brats and even had one scene where she was a deranged, almost drug-fueled crazy from her refusal to part with the wish box. Ryan’s performance is also lackluster, taking this role almost as an easy paycheck I would imagine. A total role that was wasted. All others in the cast are just as easily forgotten.
The biggest problem I had with the movie is that it didn’t stick to its genre, it attempts to blend in teeny-bopper Disney-esque scenes, such as a clichéd mall scene after she wishes to be rich and splurges on herself and friends. The horror element is all but lost, the deaths are carried out in a “Final Destination” method, where circumstances around the victims kill them and not by a direct demon or killer (which honestly I would have preferred). The film felt like it belonged in the era of “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” might have made more of an impact then. And there was a moment later in the movie in a scene with Ryan Philippe, where the director could have easily placed an easter egg towards that era.
All in all, the only thing that made this movie entertaining was the audience…as the side commentary and laughter that I normally frown upon…made this movie enjoyable.
In theaters Friday, July 14th