One location horror films can be hit and miss, but directors David Charbonier and Justin Powell have crafted a masterful film that really ramped up the isolation horror element and even more so when you thrust a child into the story who is mute. Then you add in a creature like ‘The Djinn’ and you have the making of something truly terrifying.
Jinn’s are supernatural creatures in early pre-Islamic Arabian and later Islamic mythology and theology. Jinn are not a strictly Islamic concept as they may represent several pagan beliefs integrated into Islam. We have seen them brought to life in films many times before before but each in different forms. Most notable to horror fans is probably the 1997 Robert Kurtzman film Wishmaster.
Moving to some place new can be uneasy and hard to adjust, even more so for children. We see that play out with Dylan Jacobs (Ezra Dewey) who is trying to settle into a new apartment with his father who works the overnight shift. The report between Ezra and Rob Brownstein, who plays his father, is immediate and believable. He seems like a man that would do anything for his son. But a child’s imagination can run wild with every bump in the night or sound from the vents. Something so simple and subtle can seems so big and so scary. The old moniker of “no one in space can hear you scream” gets push to another level when placed into a common every day environment like an apartment and you can’t scream for help even though there are seemingly many people around you. The atmosphere of despair that is set through sound and the strong performances really make this one fo the best films of the fest.
The film establishes purpose within the character when Dylan asks for The Djinn one thing he desperately wants, his voice back. A heartbreaking wish when you realize this boy has been through an incredible trauma, as we see play out throughout the film, which I won’t mention here. He plays those moments over and over again. You learn more about the pieces of his trauma throughout the film as they come more into focus and are actually used against him. Further connecting a gut-wrenching feeling that the filmmakers and Ezra Dewey brings to life so well on screen.
‘The Djinn’ is a roller coaster of emotions from low white knuckle moments to high intensity scenes that make your heart pound for Ezra Dewey in each moment he faces off against the incarnation of The Djinn. The battle of good and evil is not the only two things at work in this film. The battle of senses take center-stage when Ezra, takes on The Djinn in its various forms who is essentially blind. The chess game we see play out in real-time is what makes this film that much more intense.
This young man makes you feel every scene with him through his actions and acting which cannot be easy for a young actor. His character is quick witted and shows strength beyond his years. But the actors shows wisdom beyond his age. Ezra appears to be a force to be reckoned with in this industry for years to come if his heart so desires.
The beautiful thing about ‘The Djinn’ is not only is it suspenseful and scary, but it also tugs on your heartstrings and maybe even more so as a parent. Which I am.
”When we start thinking about the things we’re missing, we forget about the things we have.” Words to take into consideration each day we wake up.
I can’t wait to see what is next from filmmakers David Charbonier and Justin Powell but it will undoubtedly be intriguing.
IFC Midnight unleashes ‘The Djinn’ on May 14, 2021.