‘The Djinn’ Review: A Boy Whose Wish Comes True

In the supernatural horror movie “The Djinn,” a dramatic, somewhat corny fairy-talelike voice recites the contents of a mysterious book of spells to the audience. When the 12-year-old Dylan (Ezra Dewey) discovers this book, which lays out instructions for making wishes, he needs no time to settle on one great desire. He craves something he does not have: the ability to speak. That night, when he is left home alone, Dylan gets his wish.

The “be careful what you wish for” trope is so common in horror films that it’s hardly a spoiler to say that his wish comes with dire consequences. He conjures the evil djinn, or genie, setting in motion a night of terror. The fable facade is a deceptive precursor for a film that’s definitely not for kids.

The directors, David Charbonier and Justin Powell, take a simple, overused premise and put a genuinely fresh and terrifying spin on it by giving the demon corporeal form. The fleshy, bloody violence unexpectedly turns this haunted-house horror into a home invasion horror. Their use of fluid camerawork, pink-hued lighting, and a synthy soundtrack appropriate to the film’s ’80s setting are also impressively stylish.

But what begins as an ingenious solution for a minuscule budget and a familiar situation in this genre takes a turn toward the heavy-handed as a ghost from Dylan’s past arrives to prey on his guilt. The film betrays its own less-is-more philosophy and becomes weighed down by exposition — but it’s a tense, thrilling ride nonetheless.

The Djinn
Rated R for graphic violence. Running time: 1 hour 22 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.

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