A brisk horror that is often like a supernatural Home Alone, The Djinn is a diverting shocker with a strong central performance from child actor Ezra Dewey amidst the jump scares. Dewey is a mute boy, Dylan, who moves into a new apartment with his father following his mother’s suicide; in this apartment is a book that can summon a Djinn, a demonic wish granter. Inevitably, be careful what you wish for.
Following the instructions in the book, Dewey wishes for a voice, believing that his muteness was a cause of his mother’s death – but there are a fair amount of rules he must follow, and consequences. After a slow-burn opening, with plenty of tension-building, slow-pan camera moves, the Djinn is summoned and events ratchet up several notches. Set in one location, the young boy is trapped inside the apartment by the supernatural forces at play, having to survive the night so that his wish can be granted. The Djinn takes several human forms throughout the night as Dewey fends off attacks, proving believably resourceful as the demon lurks around various corners.
Writer/directors Charbonier and Powell – who also created The Boy Behind The Door, another kids-in-peril horror – utilize their low budget well, making a slick, gripping scarefest with Dewey excellent as the put-upon, traumatised child trying to deal with his grief. Particularly effective camerawork builds atmosphere throughout; scenes where Dewey runs on the spot silently screaming at his mother unable to get closer to her have a truthful, nightmarish quality. There’s a constant roaming throughout the apartment, sections lit scarily by torchlight alone, and the Djinn, when it does appear, proves creepily effective. A swift exercise in suspense with a sting in the tale.
Dirs: David Charbonier, Justin Powell (15, 82 mins)
Released on digital platforms on Fri 17 Sept
words KEIRON SELF
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