In Islamic and Arabian mythology lies creatures known as djinn (or jinn): spirits who are neither good nor evil, yet have transcended the spirit world and can possess the bodies of living humans. They are able to shapeshift their appearance into loved ones and use their power to trick the living, or they can simply live again through the person's body and experience what it is to eat, sleep and die again. The djinn can live in both dimensions and while they are not worshipped in the Island religion, they are absolutely a part of it. Enter THE DJINN, a brand new supernatural horror released today both written and directed by David Charbonier and Justin Powell whose focus on the film is - you guessed it - the djinn, and the sinister game that one of these spirits can play. The film is about a boy who essentially conjures up a djinn spirit and agrees to play its game in exchange for being granted a wish; the only catch (because there's always a catch) is that the djinn are masters of wordplay and they can and will manipulate your wish and, while technically granting it, will twist the outcome in a pretty messed up way. I'm an absolute sucker for folklore horror films like this one that focuses on real life-based theologies; they just always seem to make really great stories that are just a little extra good because of how the writers can relate it to our living world around us. After a middle-of-the-night viewing of The Djinn, I am totally stoked to report that this film continues that trend of excellent storytelling. While the film might be a little more slow paced and low-action than some might like, it's these two things that - in a weird way - kinda help accentuate the slow progression of the night for the boy the film is centered around. The storytelling is haunting and way darker than the trailer alludes to, and it truly is a hell of a night for the main character in the film. Spend the few bucks this weekend and join him on his descent into his own personal hell hour.
The film follows young Dylan (Ezra Dewey) and his dad Michael (Rob Brownstein) as they move into a new home following the departure of Dylan's mother. As he's unpacking his things in his new room, Dylan discovers a Book of Shadows that was left behind in their new home (a home that someone recently died in) that contains a ritual that will grant a wish to the caster. Dylan is mute and speaks using sign language, so his obvious wish is to have a voice. He decides that when his dad leaves for his night shift, the deed will be done; which works out, because the ritual calls for bloodletting at the stroke of 11PM as a candle is lit and a saying is read aloud. After completing the steps, Dylan is left still voiceless... but weird things begin happening inside of his home. The supernatural elements begin to haunt him as he begins to be stalked by what initially appears to be a killer, but Dylan soon finds out is... The Djinn. He failed to read ahead of the spell, which goes on to say that after the spell is cast, he must survive the remainder of the hour with the djinn spirit and extinguish the candle at midnight for the wish to be made true. Now trapped inside of the home with no voice, no phone, and no way out, Dylan must avoid and battle the djinn spirit as it takes on various shapes and personas in an attempt to feed on his soul. Will Dylan make it to midnight and banish the djinn back to the spirit realm, or will the djinn consume him before his father can make it home from work? Will his wish be granted in the end?! Find out in... THE DJINN!
From the get-go, there is so fucking much to appreciate about this movie; from the appearance and soundtrack of the film to the surprisingly dark plot and the djinn itself, the film deserves a ton of praise for its excellent execution. And while the djinn spirit does an absolutely haunting job shapeshifting and taking other forms to try and entice the child, the star of the show is absolutely Ezra Dewey for his performance as Dylan. Dewey plays a role that relies entirely on facial and body language to tell his story - whether its joy, pain, fear, strength, whatever - and he absolutely slays the role. Without saying a word, he manages to capture the raw emotion a child his age would possess if they were being haunted and hunted by a malevolent spirit. We see a lot of horror movies coming out with child roles in them the last few years and this performance has to be one of the best; when you take the entire plot and the situation and the emotions attached to it all, bringing that to life without even saying a word has to be a challenge and Dewey knocked it out of the park. Here's to hoping they cast him in more horrors like this one! And while the badass of the film is of course Dylan, it is the djinn spirit that will instill the fear in you after the credits roll. The djinn kinda feels reminiscent of the Babadook for me, for whatever reason, and while you only briefly see it as the actual spirit and not the humanlike appearance it takes on, it's pretty haunting. And it's haunting in its human skin; without giving too much away, let's just say it feels like a way less intense Pennywise who also wants to consume your soul. I'm really trying not to give away too much here about it, so let me just leave it with this: this thing will, at the very least, freak you out!
The film has, I'd say about three or four, twists and turns it throws at you unexpectedly that really changes the course of the film and keeps you on your toes. Like I mentioned before, Dylan unfortunately didn't do all of his homework prior to actually performing the ritual, so as he goes back to the book and finishes up the excerpt of the spell, things spiral a little more out of control than I'm sure a kid his age would like - especially being home alone in a brand new house, physically unable to reach a parent. These twists, paired with some cleverly placed and honestly dark others, adds fuel to the fire that is an absolute nightmare of a night for Dylan. When it comes to the ending of the film, all I really want to address is how much I love that writers/directors Charbonier and Justin Powell didn't make it a good, wholesome, cheesy as fuck ending; oh no, they wrote the most appropriate, dark, sad, and unsettling ending for a film like this that they could and it works flawlessly. It makes your time and money invested in the film entirely worth it as you belt out a "oh shit" right before the credits begin to roll. This is a kinda subtle but kinda not depressing and sad film with some supernatural elements to it, and the ending absolutely reflects that. An excellent ending to an excellent film. If you're a fan of supernatural/folklore horror that feels like a mix of Babadook and maybe a Conjuring movie, The Djinn should absolutely be on your radar for your movie night; I'm very confident you'll be happy you did.