Wish Upon Joey King, Ki Hong Lee, Ryan Phillippe. Directed by John R. Leonetti. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday citywide.
Horror-movie protagonists should know better than to make wishes on mysterious ancient artifacts, but teenager Clare (Joey King) ignores all the warning signs in the dopey, predictable Wish Upon. She makes every dumb horror-movie decision possible after she discovers a Chinese music box that promises to grant seven wishes. Sure, Clare’s beloved dog turns up dead right after her wish for her school tormentor to “rot” results in the fellow teen developing a flesh-eating bacteria, but that’s all coincidence, right? It’s totally cool for Clare to make a bunch more petulant teen wishes, like wishing to be the most popular girl in school with the star athlete madly in love with her. It’s not like more of her friends and family will end up dying in horrific ways, will they?
Of course they will, and director John R. Leonetti (Annabelle) and screenwriter Barbara Marshall stage these death scenes like direct rip-offs from the Final Destination movies, with elaborate maneuvers that place characters in unlikely positions to be fatally injured (but in a fairly bloodless, PG-13-friendly way). One particular sequences shamelessly jerks the audience around as it intercuts between Clare’s father (Ryan Phillippe, looking like he’s wondering where his youth went) and her best friend (Sydney Park) in various precarious situations, constantly just inches away from doom. Which one will die first? One can only wish that they’d both go simultaneously, putting this derivative waste of time out of its misery.