Dylan (Ezra Dewey) is a mute, twelve year old boy mourning the loss of his mother. He and his father Michael (Rob Brownstein), a smooth rock radio DJ, have just moved into a new house and are adapting to life as bachelors. As he is settling into his new room Dylan discovers a dusty book spell book in his closet. When Dylan performs one of the rituals that promises to grant his heart’s desire- a voice- he learns that the wish will not be easily granted…he must survive for one hour or the djinn who he summoned will not grant his wish, but take his soul.
The Djinn is a simple story that takes place in one location and really only has two characters, Dylan and the djinn (although in many forms), for the majority of the film so keeping the audience engaged is paramount. Unfortunately, the film was very slow and lacked tension for the first seventy-five percent of its 2 hour run time. It is a testament to the talents of the Ezra Dewey who single handedly holds the viewer’s interest (without saying a word!) until the action finally ramps up in the last quarter of the film.
Although it comes with a R rating, The Djinn is a gateway film and will appeal more to budding horror fans than hardcore genre folk, not just because of the young protagonist, but because there isn’t really anything new being done here. I’ll passive aggressively comment on how much I disliked the plot exposition at the end- trust that your audience “gets it” because the story was very cut and dry and the recap was not needed at all. I also can’t figure out why the film was set in 1989 except to make sure Dylan doesn’t have a cell phone and had not gotten any home defense tips from Home Alone. On a positive note the film was well made, had a fun synth-pop soundtrack (ok, maybe that’s why it’s the 80’s?) and Ezra Dewey is one to watch.
The Djinn will be released by IFC Midnight in theaters and on demand May 14, 2021.