Jinn Review – A Flashy But Ultimately Impotent Horror

2.5/5
Infertility, Mental Institution featured, Chained up mental patient, Disturbing and frightening Jinn.

I am a fan of supernatural movies, especially ones that features Jinn, as you can see from my review of Wishmaster, so I was intrigued by the premise of this from the beginning. Though it had some good points, particularly with the acting, unfortunately the story starts to get muddled part-way through. And with a final showdown that is particularly lacklustre, I was ultimately disappointed with Jinn.

Shawn is an automotive designer, who is living a perfect life with his wife Jasmine, until he receives a cryptic message. This message warns Shawn that he and his wife are in imminent danger from a curse. While initially dismissive of this mysterious message, he soon becomes concerned when strange and unexplainable things start to happen in his apartment. Subsequently, taking the message seriously, he seeks out a priest, Father Westhoff and his assistant Gabriel, to get help. At this point, the revelation of the world of the Jinn is presented to him.

What I liked about this movie is that it delved more into the mythology of the Jinn. To be honest, even though I like Jinn in movies, I have very little knowledge of the subject and its history in Islam, so it was nice to get a bit more background on this aspect. However, they never really delve very deeply into it enough to satisfy the interest they’ve sparked, and I found it odd, logically, that considering its Islamic origins, a priest is the relevant authority to speak on the Jinn. It kinda seemed like the priest was put there, along with the Church being the only place of sanctuary at the beginning, to not upset Christian viewers.

The acting in this is probably its strongest point, considering what they had to work with in regard to the script. Shawn, played by Dominic Rains, features heavily throughout and plays a convincing protagonist who is bewildered and distressed by all that is happening around him. Rains also plays a few of the Jinn, which he does to great effect – and in fact I found his Jinn to be the most compelling out of all of them. 

For the rest of the cast, it is a bit more dicey in quality. Gabriel played by Ray Park (who you may know from his portrayal of Darth Maul in Star Wars) is meant to be the muscle of the group, but I found his portrayal to be more camp than anything else. William Atherton is a veteran of acting, but it seems like he can’t even believe his character’s words as he is speaking them. Unfortunately, these 3 actors seem to jar against one another, making you unsure if you are meant to take the whole thing seriously.

There is also the issue with the special effects. In some cases the Jinn are properly scary, with a model that is similar to the Ringu franchise. But in other cases, the special effects are laughable, with Jinn looking more like bad burn victims than evil spirits. Then there are times when the effects try to be a bit too flash, becoming a distraction from the atmosphere the film had already built up, and negating any horror mood. You can especially see this in the hospital scene, where the overuse of slow motion and flashy lights kill any of the drama and intensity. Considering that Robert Kurtzman is in charge of the special effects, it was even more of a disappointment to see, as we know he is capable of more (maybe a victim of editing? – Ed).

But it becomes clear by the end, due to the sequel set-up post credits scenes, that this film is being used to demonstrate the director/writer Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad’s career. Furthermore, this is demonstrated by the fact that a car was designed specifically for this film, but does not have any point in the plot other than to show off. At times, it seemed like it was a car commercial rather than a horror movie. This is where the film and the director fails, by focusing on the cheapness of cool special effects which leads to a dire neglect of the story.

A lot of the plot points in Jinn are glossed over which makes the whole movie seem rather shallow alongside the former points, which should have amounted to an interesting and out of the ordinary narrative. We never really get an explanation of the special powers that Shawn is meant to possess. The ultimate goal of the Jinn is to kill off Shawn’s family, but even possessing the means to do so very early on, they end up play fighting with him most of the time. It is also rather unclear why they have not pursued Shawn before this life-changing video turns up. Surely, it would have been better to kill him off before he gets help? Also, I was very confused as to why they just play around with his furniture at the beginning, considering they that later demonstrate greater powers.

With smoke machines and flashy special effects, I was very surprised by the underwhelming final showdown which was more of a whimper than the bang I expected. It all seemed like it was over fairly quickly. With Shawn only having a very cheap looking knife and some holy water, there wasn’t enough to really wow the audience. However, if you like shirtless men shouting at fiery beings, then it might be up your alley.

Jinn is a very muddled and confusing film, a sum not greater than its parts, that does not make up for the lack of consistency in its plot, even with an overindulgence of special effects. 

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