THE DJINN (2021)
Starring Ezra Dewey, Rob Brownstein, Tevy Poe, John Erickson, Donald Pitts, Jilbert Daniel, Omaryus Luckett, Collin Joe and Isaiah Mansfield.
Screenplay by David Charbonier and Justin Powell.
Directed by David Charbonier and Justin Powell.
Distributed by IFC Midnight. 82 minutes. Not Rated.
I must admit, being only somewhat up on monster lore, I have heard of djinns, but I never quite knew what they were or what they did. After seeing The Djinn, I only have somewhat more understanding.
According to Wikipedia – and doesn’t everyone go to Wikipedia for their supernatural lore? – here is the definition of a djinn. “Jinn – also romanized as djinn or anglicized as genie (with the broader meaning of spirit or demon, depending on source) – are supernatural creatures in early pre-Islamic Arabian and later Islamic mythology and theology.”
Okay, so a genie with a possible dark twist. That could work for a horror movie. I’m just not completely sure this is the one. It has some very creepy parts, it holds a strong sense of paranoid claustrophobia, but in the long run it makes little sense. And, honestly, for the most part, I just didn’t really buy it.
The Djinn is not the most original storyline. In fact, it is very similar to last year’s Come Play (which was honestly a better film) – a small boy without the power of speech is terrified in his own home by a supernatural creature that he has summoned, a creature which claims to be there to help him.
Of course there are some differences. The boy in Come Play was autistic, this one is mute. The Djinn takes place almost entirely in the boy’s home, where Come Play was expanded to other places in the boy’s world. This film takes place in 1989, for no apparent reason other than to keep the child from texting for help. (Other than a few shots of big, old, tubed televisions, landline corded phones, and some synth-heavy, new-wave-sounding songs [which were not actually from the 80s, but mostly recorded within the past ten years], this story could be taking place anytime, anywhere.)
Most importantly, in Come Play, the child inadvertently invited the monster by clicking on a story app on a mysterious iPod. He had no way of knowing he was inviting evil into his world. This little boy actually did summon the monster, from a spell from a mysterious old book he found in the closet of his new home. He goes through several specific steps, including lighting a candle, drawing blood from himself to lure the creature, and reciting an incantation into a mirror. (Apparently djinns understand sign language. Who knew?)
This is after the book specifically warned that djinns tend to be duplicitous and grant wishes at the great cost of the soul. Also, if the kid had read further into the book before cutting himself and lighting candles, he would have known that often djinns do not deliver wishes in the way that the person expects, tending to be tricksters who cheat, blurring the lines of what the wish was supposed to be.
Honestly, perhaps this kid really deserved to be haunted. If nothing else, he brought it upon himself. The whole time he was setting up to call upon the djinn I was thinking: Don’t do that. Haven’t you seen a single horror movie in your (admittedly short) life?
Part of the problem with The Djinn is that the movie doesn’t really explain how a djinn works well enough. Apparently, they are shape-shifters – this creature appears to the boy as three totally different humans before showing its own visage – and all these distinct people got a bit confusing. It took a while to figure out that they were all variations of the djinn, which I get was probably the intention of the filmmakers, but it still had me more puzzled than terrorized.
First the djinn appears to be an escaped convict. Next, it seems to be the person who had lived and died in the home before the boy and his father moved in, although I don’t know how the kid would know that since he never met the guy. Then the djinn takes its most horrific disguise – at least to the kid – that of his late mother, who the boy had seen commit suicide a year or two before.
Apparently, what the boy must do is to evade the djinn until after midnight and then blow out the candle, although I could swear that the candle blew out at least once or twice during the night.
Like I said, much of this was suspenseful and nerve-wracking. I just wish that I bought into the storyline more – or even that I completely understood it. Particularly unbelievable was the trick ending, which was trying hard to be dark and cynical, but it just seemed to be a bit of narrative sleight of hand.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2021 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 14, 2021.