You know what sucks? When a movie is sooooooo close to being good and then it just…isn’t.
Director Tobe Hooper’s latest flick Djinn is one of those movies, and fuck if it isn’t a piss off…again. I mean COME ON, why does every movie about the djinn have to be a disappointment…obviously I mean every movie since Wishmaster.
The sad part here, is that this story of a young Emirati couple who become targets of the djinn had SO much potential, you could practically see the great movie it could have been.
The film follows Salama and Khalid (Razane Jammal and Khalid Laith) who move back to the UAE after the death of their infant son. Salama is ridden with guilt and Khalid wants a fresh start for himself and his wife, so when her therapist (controlled by the djinn…natch) insists they move from America back home to Dubai, he jumps at the opportunity and Salama reluctantly agrees. Once back home, the couple move into a luxury high rise apartment building which, according to Salama’s mother, was built right over the djinn village.
As far as signs go, that ain’t a good one, but chock full of possibilities.
The building, although luxurious, seems desolate and off-putting, shrouded in a thick soupy fog that never wavers. The place is also mysteriously empty save one coolly polite (and American) concierge and one stunningly beautifully woman with yellow eyes (Aiysha Hart) to whom Salama takes an immediate dislike…things only go downhill from there.
Side Note: This film was shot in Ras Al-Khaimah, a gorgeous seaside city in the UAE, and we see absolutely NONE of it during the film. I say this only because there was much talk about the fact that Djinn was filmed in the Emirates, but for the very little we actually see of it, Djinn might as well have been shot on a Hollywood back lot.
Now the main problem with this movie, is the pacing. Everything happens so bloody fast the audience barely gets to know the characters or have the chance to care about what the hell happens to them. Also, the leads’ personalities seem to shift so rapidly it’s dizzying…and annoying. Khalid for instance, starts off a loving and supportive husband and in no time at all (the events take place in less than a day) he’s a disinterested spouse, flirting with strange women and completely disregarding his wife’s obviously fragile mental state. Of course Salama unravels so rapidly it’s no wonder Khalid (who spends the majority of the film “at work”) has no time to notice she’s losing it.
As for the titular character, the djinn itself is a female called Um Al Duwais who, we learn in flashbacks, had a baby with a sailor and replaced his human child with her own. The djinn baby was then bespelled to repress it’s dark side and taken away to a land far FAR away. Momma djinn was, naturally, not pleased and spent years looking for her lost baby boy. It will take no effort AT ALL to figure out where that storyline is going, but I’ll be nice and not spoil it for anyone…for now.
The legend of Um Al Duwais is a fascinating one (google it and you’ll see), but Hooper does nothing with it and even less with the intriguing landscape and myth rich culture that could have made for a damn good movie. There is of course no doubt of Hooper’s credentials as a legendary horror director, despite his spotty directing history, the man was responsible for some of the greatest horror movies EVER. In this instance however, he got it all wrong, a dark, slow burning tale of the djinn in the land where the stories were born could have resulted in a sublime horror experience, but this isn’t that movie.
Despite some intriguing moments of delectable fear, Djinn never quite makes it off the ground, and for a tale meant to be filled with the dark side of magic, that’s an unforgivable fail.
Seen this middle eastern offering horror fans? Let me know what you thought, and as always gimme some lovin’ and click that Like button 😉