Although there are about fifty Dracula movies in development right now it does seem to me as if the horror movie makers have done some rummaging about in the monster play-box as of late in order to come up with new oogie-boogies for us — be it the Dybbuk of The Vigil, the nightmare figures haunting the dreams of Come True, the hotel demons knocking on the doors of The Night, or the eroticized religious hallucinations of Saint Maud, this has been a good year for looking for scares somewhere a little niche, a little strange, off the beaten path.
Maybe it’s just the bottomless demand for content (there have been so many horror anthology shows over the past few years) or maybe it’s that we’re finally hearing from some new voices — it’s Jewish mysticism informing The Vigil, while Iran has proven fertile territory with both The Night and the great Under the Shadow a few years back. And then of course there’s Joko Anwar tearing it up centipede-style with his Indonesian funhouses… honestly it’s probably all of these things all mixed up together, but besides all of the other advantages just on a base level it’s been a real boon for monster lovers.
Which brings me to this IFC Midnight’s new horror flick The Djinn (releasing this weekend), titled after the Arabic creature of yore, which is sometimes spelled Jinn but is definitely better known to Western ears as the Genie. (On a side-note over the weekend I watched a spectacular episode of Shudder’s Creepshow series that reimagined this same beastie to super duper creepy effect, which is a necessary ingredient for you to understand why I’ve just rambled about everything I just rambled about.) You know what a Genie is — rub a lamp, three wishes, yadda yadda. But these new spins exist to stomp out all thoughts of family-friendly blue goofs by way of Robin Williams, returning the trickster spirit to its nasty monkey-paw roots. These wishes never work out the way their wishers intended.
The Djinn could have (and maybe should have) been an anthology show episode, favoring as it does an extremely small scale, keeping itself almost entirely contained to a single apartment and focusing in on a young mute boy named Dylan (Ezra Jacobs) at home one night while his widowed DJ dad works the late shift. Besides its emphatic electronic score (it’s set in the 1980s, since that’s the new go-to to eliminate the cell phone conundrum), Dylan being mute means The Djinn is very nearly a silent film for half its run-time, which works in its favor — smart filmmakers know silence is horror’s homestead; get us leaning in so we’ve got further to jump when the eventual sound does come.
Photo courtesy of IFC Midnight