Djinn are quite the formidable creatures. They truly are the one supernatural beings that can be depicted as good, bad or evil. Based on Islamic mythology Djinn, Jinn or Genies can just as easily give with one hand and take away with the other. So be careful what you wish for! Long gone are the days of Barbara Eden in classic fantasy sitcom ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ or the zany shenanigans of the famous blue genie, voiced by the late Robin Williams, that featured in Disney’s 1992 ‘Aladdin’. Over the past 15 years the horror genre has been busy making sure audiences know of the more malevolent side of these spiritual creatures.
Robert Kurtzman’s ‘Wishmaster‘ (1997) starred the powerfully sinister Andrew Divoff (‘Lost’) in a fantastically terrifying performance as the recently unleashed Djinn set to give his unique spin on any desired wish of his unsuspecting victim. After being accidentally released from a red opal stone the Djinn begins feeding on his victims’ fears by literally twisting the words of his self-indulgent wishers. Produced by Wes Craven the ‘Wishmaster’ spawned three direct to video sequels over the next 5 years not ever quite recreating the curiosity of the original. I mean a movie that features a drowning Tony Todd (Candyman), a choking Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) and a squashed Kane Hodder (Jason Vorhees) has at least got something worth checking out.
Leaving movies aside for a brief moment a couple of hugely successful horror series, one of which is still running, have also tapped in to the mythology of the Djinn. Back in 2000 Chris Carter’s ‘The X-Files’ was nearing the end of its seventh season run with its penultimate genie based episode “Je Souhaite”. With strong echoes of ‘Wishmaster’ right there to work with the episode revolved around a guy who awakens a genie with a trio of typical wishes only to discover that the those pesky loopholes are still there which bring more trouble than good.
CW’s hugely fan-popular ‘Supernatural’, which is currently enjoying its tenth season, also tried its hand at a slightly twisted version of the Djinn legend. In 2007’s “What Is And What Should Never Be” episode Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) finds himself the unlikely victim of the monster which has the ability to warp reality giving the impression that there wishes and desires are fulfilled when in fact their bodies are back in the real world being fed on by the evil Djinn over the next few days.
The Djinn was once again the main mythological antagonist in 2002’s British chiller ‘Long Time Dead‘. A group of youngsters, that included Joe Absolom (‘I Spit on Your Grave 2’), Lukas Haas (‘Inception’) and the sexy Marsha Thomason (‘Lost’), that get together one drunken night thinking that it would be a good idea to whip out the old Ouija board and unleash a vengeful spirit. ‘Long Time Dead’ simply uses the creature as the stalking supernatural killer in this effort without concerning itself too much with the typical ‘wish-based’ theme.
French horror ‘Djinns‘ moves the action out of the suburbs and into a war based setting where a group of French military are attacked by jinn during a rescue mission in Algeria. Tobe Hooper’s Djinn (2013) is the most recent horror feature based on the legendary creature. Critically panned the horror set in the United Arab Emirates finds an Emirati couple return home from a trip and discover that their new apartment has been built on a site that is home to some malevolent beings…yup you guessed it…Djinn!
It’s great to see a supernatural being that can give gladness and/or sadness and sits so loosely on a sliding scale of good and evil. It’s entertaining to watch but it’s always a lucky dip of just which Djinn you may be facing. So it makes sense to throw that dice before you rub that lamp, or try playing a Genie Jackpots casino game for some lighter hearted genie happenings. As far as the genre is concerned it’s much better to find ourselves with an evil-intentioned monster set to cause havoc, death and other such despair in the world than a sugary genuine genie with free wishes to hand out.
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