Review: ‘What You Wish For’

Nick Stahl Is A Down On His Luck Chef With The Opportunity Of A Lifetime, Or So He Thinks

Who knew the kitchen was one of the most terrifying places? Lately, with such films as Fresh and The Menu, we’re now fully in a new sub-genre of cooking in horror/thrillers. Writer/director Nick Tomnay’s latest film What You Wish For helps ramp up tension through many twists and turns surrounding a fledgling chef who at first seems like he’s lucked out and hit the jackpot, only he has to be careful about “what he wishes for.”

Ryan (Nick Stahl) is a talented chef. Unfortunately, he definitely has peaked career-wise and has a bit of a gambling problem. While he’s not at rock bottom, he definitely needs a pick-me-up. At the beginning of What You Wish For, he heads to an unnamed Latin American country where he meets up with his friend Jack (Brian Groh) from culinary school, who is a much more successful chef. As the two catch up and have fun at Jack’s villa, they even meet a fellow traveler Alice (Penelope Mitchell). However, things take a dark turn towards the end of the first act.

The next morning Ryan finds Jack’s body after Jack hanged himself. Now what troubles Jack enough to end his life? He works for an international catering agency that flies him all over the world to cook for the uber-rich, something Ryan would kill for as he’s simply a line cook at the Marriot. After VERY briefly mourning his friend’s suicide, Ryan comes up with the idea of simply taking over Jack’s life. He gains access to Jack’s bank accounts, (and sees Jack’s loaded) and quickly orders a fake ID, and proceeds to take over and become Jack after dumping Jack’s body in a nearby lake. This means that he has to assume Jack’s chef duties, and just in time for a dinner party.

As Jack, Ryan meets Imogene (Tamsin Topolski) a representative from the agency, and he quickly learns that he’s going to be a “different” kind of chef when he is sent to go secure the “produce” for the meal he has to serve. For the remainder of What You Wish For, the audience is treated to a bunch of twists and turns into this world Nicholas Tomnay has “carved out” for us and racks up the tension. The more Ryan gets involved and learns what he has to do as “Jack,” the more he realizes why Jack committed suicide. The tension grows and grows, especially when his and the agency’s activities have made one law enforcement official (Randy Vasquez) interested in what’s going on, as his nephew is missing.

What You Wish For is clever as you kind of already know where the film is going, but the execution (pun intended) of the film leaves you both mouthwatering (if you’re a foodie) and queasy at the same time. The film isn’t overtly gory in its plenty of “food” scenes, but at the same time, it allows your mind to play with you and keep you in a state of unease. The ending of the film is great because even though it’s not a Shyamalan-styled twist, it doesn’t end the way most traditional films of this sort would. Tamsin Topolski’s pragmatic ruthlessness as the consigliere of the agency is quite chilling. Nick Stahl gives a great performance as someone who before the events of the film was a screw-up, but now has to think on his feet in order to… well keep his feet as he has to navigate to his newfound reality of the uber-rich and their monstrous tastes. Overall, What You Wish For is an interesting film, just know going in that the movie takes plenty of dark turns: be careful what you wish for when seeing this!

What You Wish For is currently available in select theaters and On Demand.