World peace. Never-ending financial security. Unlimited wishes. If you paused to reflect for a few moments, I’m sure you could think of some pretty epic wishes you’d make if given the chance. At the very least, you’d likely choose your wishes with more forethought than a distractible, excruciatingly self-involved teenager. But that’s why there aren’t any teen terror films about you, and why Wish Upon will probably rake in more money from theatergoing horror fans than it deserves this summer.

In Wish Upon, protagonist Clare seeks what these films tell us any teenage girl wants—her crush to give her the time of day, the mean girls at school to finally welcome her to their inner circle, and of course, to move past witnessing her mother’s suicide—you know, classic coming-of-age stuff. Clare’s well-meaning dad is played by my generation’s middle-school crush, Ryan Phillippe—who wooed us all with his sweet nothings in I Know What You Did Last Summer: “You two should check out a mirror sometime. You look like shit run over twice.” Swoon. But I digress.

Anyway, Dreamboat Dad brings Clare a magical box with mystical Chinese symbols. Her basic Chinese language skills help her determine that the box offers her seven wishes. She gives it a try, and behold, it works. But as the people in her life start dropping like flies, Clare finds herself wondering if she may have missed something in translation. She revels in her wishes and basks in her greed, but at what cost?

Well, I’ll tell you: not quite enough to merit 15 bucks to see this film in the theater. Look, I’ll admit, Wish Upon is entertaining, and even laugh-out-loud hilarious at times. Some of the finer selections from the film’s script might even rise to the level of my all-time favorite cheesy horror lines, including Cabin Fever’s “That guy asked us for help and we lit him on fire!”

Wish Upon doesn’t take itself too seriously, and lets some terrible teen acting roam free with unintentionally hilarious effects. Sorry Joey, while you’ll always have a special place in my heart by virtue of your role in The Conjuring, I don’t quite think the world is ready to experience your level of overacting for the length of an entire film.

Admittedly, had I skipped the previews for Wish Upon before seeing the film, I might have simply enjoyed a fun comedy spoof on the horror genre. But if you walk into the theater expecting to be scared, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The film doesn’t even boast a single well-timed, unexpected jump-scare.

I actually have a hard time believing that the same guy who directed this film also directed Annabelle, and was the cinematographer for The Conjuring and Insidious. But while John Leonetti may have failed to deliver a terrifying summer blockbuster this year, Wish Upon has a decent flow to it, and is more entertaining than I expected it to be, just in a totally different way.

Can I in good conscience recommend this film to my deathly-devout fright-seeking readers? No. But it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you saw Wish Upon expecting a good laugh and a fun throwback to high school-style summer slasher films.

SpecialK Verdict: It’s wishful thinking to expect a single scare out of this film, but if I’m being generous, and if you’re bored and looking for a good laugh, you could do worse.  

Wish Upon opens July 14. 

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