The Djinn is an interesting new take on home invasion horror. When young Dylan Jacobs performs a ritual in the hopes of making a wish come true, he unknowingly invites terror into his home. Taking place entirely within Dylan’s apartment, The Djinn is quiet and claustrophobic, and it may end up being one of the best horror movies of 2021.
The Djinn begins on a quiet summer night in 1989. Dylan wakes up and finds his mother crying in the kitchen, and he’s unable to stop what happens next. This moment haunts him and repeats throughout the films in flashbacks that change as the film progresses. After this tragic incident, Dylan (Ezra Dewey) and his father Michael (Rob Brownstein) move to a new home, where the rest of the film will take place. Dylan finds a “Book of Shadows” in his home, which leads him to summoning the djinn.
Michael narrates the “Book of Shadows” with a dry tone that adds an element of humor to the film. These moments of humor, along with a cute montage of Michael and Dylan during the move, really set the tone for the audience to care about the relationship between the two of them. It’s wholesome and heartwarming, which makes what’s to come all the more devastating and stressful.
With nods to a bygone era of TV static and radio shows, The Djinn reminds us that we’re in the 80’s, without beating us over the head with that fact. Since the audience isn’t also being accosted by loud 80’s fashion and decor, the synth-heavy soundtrack is enjoyable. It’s nice to see a retro-flick that isn’t entirely about the decade it’s set in.
The Djinn makes up for any predictable moments and exposition with Dylan’s singular quiet and emotional performance. Without saying a word, Ezra Dewey’s acting, in concert with the lighting and cinematography, bring us right into Dylan’s home, trapped with him and the djinn. The economical storytelling by writer/directors David Charbonier and Justin Powell is great; everything that we see in this film has some use or meaning, and every shot of this 81 minute film feels crucial.
The ending of The Djinn might take you by surprise and leave you feeling a little empty, but that’s not a bad thing. There’s a few jump scares, and honestly? They work pretty well. The Djinn is a fun movie that’ll keep you on your toes.
The Djinn comes to theaters, digital, and on demand May 14
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