Poor and unpopular high school student, Clare Shannon (Joey King) desperately longs for change as she remains haunted by her mother’s suicide. So when her father (Ryan Phillippe) comes home one day with a music box that claims to have the power to grant its owner 7 wishes, what has she got to lose? As her wishes start to come true, people start to die. What has she got to lose? Everything…
It comes as no surprise that little miss Joey King would be playing the lead in horror movies after her standout performance in 2013’s The Conjuring, in which her looks of absolute terror even managed to scare the piss out of me! And Ryan Phillippe, or “the butt guy” as some dubbed him after his turn in Cruel Intentions (1999), who I don’t think I’ve witnessed playing in a horror movie since 1997 slasher I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Here Phillippe plays the absent-minded father, and that’s exactly how his character feels in general. Absent. Yes, the lack of connection with lost and hurting daughter Clare spurs her on to make more wishes. But they never quite feel like family, and you never really get to know who her father really is.
Joey, however, as Clare steals the entire film. There’s something about her that makes her so easy to route and care for. She pretty much nails the raw emotion of a heartbroken teenaged girl. Even as you’re wondering why, why are you making all these seriously bad choices? You understand her, and want her to have the things that she wants. Which is why I find the rest of the film so frustrating!!!
It’s enjoyable enough but it tends to shy away from being the true horror that it could be. I’m not necessarily talking gore. It just seems to lack the patience for any real suspense as well as the guts to be, well, gutsy where it counts.
This is most likely the result of being edited down for younger viewers. But someone’s being a little too careful here. For example, the inevitable love spell gone wrong. It goes exactly where you’d expect it to, but it barely even touches on levels as dark as Skeet Ulrich & Robin Tunney’s bewitched run-in on The Craft (1996).
The soundtrack more or less secures the notion that this movie is targeted mainly for a teeny-bopper audience, but it has some pretty cool influences in play, such as Final Destination (2000) and Wishmaster (1997), and even a reference to Hellraiser (1987) thrown in there. It also reminded me a little bit of John V. Soto’s 2010 supernatural horror Needle.
Joey King’s lead performance is the only reason to watch this incomplete horror tale. Even as the scares fall flat and nothing quite fits together, it’s too late by the time you realise that King has already made you care. And that’s half the battle.