The Djinn is a 2021 American supernatural horror film directed and written by David Charbonier and Justin Powell, which certainly suspends disbelief in terms of what can be done on a small budget, if you are looking for an aesthetically intriguing horror film. However, there is much missing throughout this 80 minute assault to the senses, including expansion on character and plot.
On an unspecified night in 1989, Dylan Jacobs, a mute and asthmatic boy, finds his mother Michelle crying in front of the kitchen sink with a candle lit nearby. She turns around and the candle is blown out, a metaphor for much throughout the film. In the fall of the same year, Dylan and his father Michael move to a new house. In one of the rooms, Dylan finds a dusty mirror and an old book containing instructions for summoning a djinn and having it grant the summoner’s wish. The book instructs that at one hour before midnight, the summoner must place three drops of blood in a lit candle’s wax and make their desired wish in front of a mirror; the djinn will grant the wish at midnight if the summoner has the required strength of will, but the wish may cost the summoner their soul. Dylan keeps this very hushed from his father, and as we suspect, this is when all chaos descends.
The film stars Ezra Dewey, Rob Brownstein, Tevy Poe and John Erickson, with a particularly strong performance from Dewey, as the terrified young boy. Obviously with a film of this genre and synopsis there is limited characterisation and this is also suppressed somewhat by his disability, though we do soon learn that being mute throughout a horror does come with its advantages, as well as disadvantages much further down the line.
A classic careful-what-you-wish-for tale, The Djinn has much to offer over the eighty or so minutes. The convincing ’80s setting, Dewey’s performance of Dylan and the suspense all contribute towards heightened feelings and an anxious viewer. Despite not indulging us in substance and laying it on thick in plot and character, Powell and Charbonier do convince us that aesthetically sound horror films are achievable even with a tiny budget, and that in itself is no easy task. I mean I don’t know about you, but there were at least two or three moments where the heart palpitations kicked in. They definitely hit some of the right notes; it will be interesting to see which way they go, as they grow and develop with further projects.
The Djinn opens in cinemas on Friday 17th September.