A woman Johanna Shannon (Elisabeth Rohm) is shown (reluctantly)
throwing out a cloth-wrapped treasure in the trash. Her preschool
daughter Clare (Raegan Revord) asks if she can ride her bike down the
street. Her mom tells her it's okay but she has to come right back and
stay on their own block. That's safe, to keep within an established
timeframe and in one's familiar surroundings. She goes off with her
pup Max, explores some baby birds in a tree nest, and returns home.
Fast forward to Clare as a high school senior. Her neighbor bakes with
apples. Clare is the apple that doesn't fall far from the tree, taking
after her mom who "was a good woman but she had a rough childhood, …
secrets too big to live with." Clare has a sensitive artistic side like
her mom's, which combined with a childhood trauma and a slight frame,
makes her a target for bullying. Max is a big dog now. Her dad Jonathan
(Ryan Phillippe) is a suave jazz sax player with a sideline of dumpster
diving. He would have made a real catch in his day. The dumpster diving
was fun when Clare was little, but now her dad is a source of
embarrassment among Clare's schoolmates.
One day Jonathan finds a clamshell music box among the
detrituspresided over by a gargoyle. Belated research will prove it to
be a Chinese wish pot managed by a demon (Chinese: Yao Guai) that
grants its holder seven wishes coming with a non-optional "blood
price." After the 7th wish the Yao Guai claims its holder's soul. This
particular pot had a tragic beginning, but its subsequent owners led
prosperous liveswhat remained of themsurrounded by lots of death.
This puts one in mind of (Prov. 26:27) "Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall
therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him", now
bastardized into, "What goes around comes around", or in pc terms
messing with a level playing field. Rolling a stone uphill with
affirmative action is what causes it to roll back down, and the pit is
dug to handicap the competition. Who could blame those owners for
capitalizing on their "leveling" device to give themselves a playing
field more to their liking, collateral damage notwithstanding?
Jonathan gives it to Clare as an early birthday present. Lacking the
maturity of the previous owners, she makes various droll requests
concerned with her status among her high school crowd. If you count
coming down with a disfiguring disease and falling madly in love, there
are plenty of hits and falls associated with Clare's wishes. Double
whammies are not out of the question, either, where there is both a hit
*and* a fall. A hanging, for instance, involves a fall from one's
support, then the knot of the hangman's noose striking the back of the
cranium to knock out the soon-to-be-deceased before the rope breaks his
neck. An auto-pedestrian accident may start with the struck person
being launched through the air to fall upon something. At any rate the
sound of a falling body is 'swish' and a hit *upon* is like the *Upon*
in the cute title. When Clare turns 18, her wishes turn more mature.
The setting looks genuine Ohio where I once lived. The actors are all
good, down to the dog, and the principal (Clare) is photogenic, easy to
look at. The plot is consistent and strangely relevant to real life.
The music from the box sounds western, but the Mandarin Chinese
pronunciation in the Chinese class was spot on as they did their drills
starting with the teacher's name. "Wish Upon" was not overly gory,
relying more on suspense and imagination to get to the audience. It's
short at 1 1/2 hours, but if you stay past the end, there may be an
extra scene. This is an altogether well-crafted film and earns my
highest marks. Unfortunately, it hasn't been heavily hyped, so horror
lovers may miss a good one if they wait too long. It's clever enough to
deserve more than one viewing to catch what you missed the first time.