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Friday, June 4, 2021

May Release ‘The Djinn’ Grants Wishes in the Form of Fairy Tale Terror [Indie Horror Spotlight]

The content space is more crowded than ever, making it challenging to keep up with all of the genre titles available via streaming platforms, VOD, and theatrical releases. It can be overwhelming just to browse. To help prevent great indie horror from slipping through the cracks, we’ll spotlight our favorites every month. 

Filmmakers David Charbonier and Justin Powell marked themselves as ones to watch on the festival circuit, first with the boundary-pushing The Boy Behind the Door (review) and then with fairy tale nightmare The Djinn. The latter released earlier in May on VOD by IFC Midnight, showcasing what makes indie horror so special.

It’s a simple concept, but the magic lies within its execution.

The Djinn follows mute twelve-year-old Dylan Jacobs (Ezra Dewey), who just moved into a new apartment with his dad, Michael (Rob Brownstein). It’s 1989, and Michael works nights as a radio DJ, which means Dylan gets left home alone all night. Being the new kid on the block means Dylan has yet to make any friends, and he’s still struggling with the loss of his mother. Then he discovers an old Book of Shadows left behind by the previous tenant, which contains a ritual that promises to grant the performer’s greatest desire. Getting that wish comes with a catch; an evil Djinn will only give it if you follow specific rules, lest it takes your soul. Dylan becomes trapped and embroiled in an intense battle for his life.

The movie plays out entirely within the limited space of the apartment, forcing directors/writers Charbonier and Powell to find creative ways to maximize that space to maintain visual interest and suspense. The cast list is short, with young Dewey carrying much of the film on his own. The filmmakers don’t bother with adding complicated mythology, either. This is a small-scale indie feature that makes use of a familiar “Monkey’s Paw” scenario.  

Charbonier and Powell demonstrate a firm grip on pacing and escalation, but their ability to make full use of space and a low budget is remarkable. The Djinn is minimal in location and design, yet the way the action and scare sequences are staged creates breathless tension that can and does leaves you on the edge of your seat. Everything on screen has a purpose and a payoff; there’s a simplicity to it all, but it’s done with a meticulous vision.

The emerging filmmakers display an uncanny ability to wield tension like a weapon and create potent chills from a sparsely decorated apartment. This talent and the fearless way they put their young lead through the emotional and physical wringer elevate a modest feature into something thrilling. A horror movie set around a pre-teen comes with the inherent expectations of safety that the child will come away shaken but ultimately unscathed. That refreshingly proves untrue here, as Dylan’s soul is on the line. There are genuine stakes raised in this night of terror.

Those stakes, the palpable dread, an affecting throughline grounding the supernatural, and the nail-biting suspense revives a dusty concept. There’s not an ounce of fat here, just a streamlined story packed with intensity and scares. For horror fans, what we often seek most is a great scare; the rest is just confetti. The Djinn operates in the same space as The Gate, offering a perfect gateway horror for those who’ve graduated beyond safer, lighter fare.

Indie budgets are a mere fraction of large studio releases, and those constraints can often show. That means that filmmakers often think outside the box or make compromises in execution. The Djinn doesn’t have any fancy bells or whistles; it’s just a quick, mean horror-thriller unafraid to inflict severe punishment upon its youthful protagonist for daring to wish and dabble with dark forces. In the process of delivering effective scares and taut suspense, it marks Charbonier and Powell as filmmakers to watch.

You can stream The Djinn through your favorite VOD outlet tonight!



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3667398/indie-spotlight-may-release-djinn-granted-wishes-form-fairy-tale-terror/

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