A mute boy is trapped in his apartment with a sinister monster when he makes a wish to fulfill his heart’s greatest desire.
There’s no question that directors David Charbonier and Justin Powell are adept at doing a lot with a little. Shot on what money they must have found in their couch, The Djinn is a low-budget throwback that evokes the B-Grade horror films of the ’80’s. I mean this as a compliment as it is a very modest production but quite inventive in the way it’s executed. Taking place in only one setting – a two bedroom apartment – the duo are able to open up this space and keep us engaged over the film’s 80 minute running time without our ever feeling the movie is stagnating in any way. As an example of low-budget filmmaking, The Djinn is exceptional.
Equally impressive is the performance from their young lead, Ezra Dewey, a teenager required to carry the film on his shoulders and never shrinks from the challenge. As Dylan, a shy boy who can’t speak, he’s required to keep us interested in all that’s going on where his character is concerned as well as elicit our sympathy. He succeeds handsomely in doing both, conveying a sense of sincere poignancy as this young man is haunted by his mother’s suicide, blaming himself because he sees himself as different. Moving into a new apartment with his worried father (Rob Brownstein), he finds an ancient book stuffed in the back of a closet and finds that it has the power to grant him one wish. The rite he performs does in fact work – he can now speak – but in doing so he’s unleashed something that was better kept under wraps.
The premise is as old as the hills but Dewey’s conviction keeps us engaged, creating a degree of sympathy for Dylan that compels us to hang around to see just how things play out for him. Needless to say, he spends a very long night trying to escape from a malevolent spirit (a manifestation of his guilt?) that is intially intriguing but ultimately proves tedious. There’s a great deal of style here and enough innnovation on display that I’m eager to see what Charbonier and Powell with a bigger budget and a much larger set.
2 1/2 Stars