Movie Review: The Djinn

May 11, 2021

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

David Charbonier and Justin Powell are making waves as a cowriting/codirecting duo with their single-location cat-and-mouse horror thrillers. They made a big debut splash with last year’s excellent The Boy Behind the Door and have followed it up with their terrific supernatural sophomore effort The Djinn
In The Djinn, young Dylan Jacobs (Ezra Dewey), who is mute, has just moved with his radio personality father Michael (Rob Brownstein) into a new home after the death of Michelle (Tevy Poe), Dylan’s mother and Michael’s wife. The father and son are grieving Michelle’s loss, but their obviously strong bond is helping them work through matters.
Dylan discovers a large tome entitled The Book of Shadows in a closet and tries out one of the spells contained in the book in hopes that it will grant him one of his fondest wishes. This unleashes the titular supernatural being, which can take on different human forms. Dylan must escape the djinn’s deadly wrath for the wish to come true, immersing the young boy and viewers in a nailbiter of a film.
Charbonier and Powell are masterful at ratcheting up suspense and writing strong, believable protagonists, as they have proved in both of their films. With The Djinn, Dylan makes decisions that a child in such a situation might, without resorting to bone-headed mistakes that many fear-fare protagonists are saddled with by their writers. Naturally, not all of his decisions are the best options, which keeps things suspenseful here. 

Dewey, who co-starred in The Boy Behind the Door, toplines here, carrying the bulk of the film on his shoulders, with his mute character meaning that his performance relies greatly on his facial expressions and physical interpretations. He carries off this difficult task wonderfully, investing Dylan with a likeability and a resourcefulness that viewers can easily get behind.
Cinematographer Julián Estrada, who also filmed The Boy Behind the Door, does masterful work. He and his camera weave through hallways, other small spaces, and the rooms of the Jacobs home, putting viewers up close to and sometimes in the middle of the action.   
The Djinn holds many surprises and packs plenty of emotional punches. It’s a fun thrill ride for seasoned fright-fare fans and is also a fine candidate for younger, budding horror movie viewers new to the genre.
The Djinn, from IFC Midnight, will be released in theaters and on digital and On Demand on May 14th, 2021. 

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