Magazine article Screen International


Magazine article Screen International


Article excerpt

Dir: Tobe Hooper. UAE. 2013. 86mins

Tobe Hooper's much-anticipated and long in post production United Arab Emirates' set supernatural thriller Djinn finally had its world premiere at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, delivering some nicely sustained spooky shocks, a shrewd sense of place and atmosphere and enough ghostly goings-on the keep genre fans happy. It is no gore fest - but then over-the-top bloodletting has never really been Hooper's trademark - but instead Djinn is a tight , taut and rather traditional supernatural tale.

The film is sensibly tight and short, and while offering little new in terms of effects, plot-twists or performance, Djinn is a watchable and generally enjoyable supernatural chiller.

There was initial high expectation around the film given it was set and funded in the UAE, produced by Image Nation and performed in both Arabic and English. Shot on a $35millon budget, its theatrical release has been delayed since 2011 - leading to various rumours in the genre media - but the fact that it had its premiere at a sold-out ADFF screening points to loose ends finally being tied up and post-production at last completed.

Much has been made about the film being the first Emirati horror film (though recent low-budget films such as Lockdown: Red Moon Escape in 2012 and 2010's The Curse Of The Devil are also resolutely genre tales) with the region not having a deep tradition in horror films. But certainly the ghostly djinn only rarely crop up in films (apart from the Wishmaster series), though in their friendlier guise as genies they have long been fantasy film regulars.

The film opens with a little djinn background, explaining that these spiritual creatures exists in a world unseen by humans, but along with humans and angels make up three sapient creations of God. The scene-setter sees three men - one American and two Emirati - speed into the desert to eat and drink at an abandoned fishing village called Al Hamra, where legend has it the community was abandoned after malevolent beings haunted the inhabitants.

In a nicely staged sequence the three are attacked, with the American finally coming to a sticky end alongside his flash SUV, stalked by djinn who seem to have control over his car's central locking as well as appearing in a terrifying dark and misty shape, with sharp teeth and clawed hands. …

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