The Djinn (2021)

A nice slice of economical horror, “The Djinn” might have worked better as an episode of, say, “The Twilight Zone,” but as it is, it’s still pretty fun. One of the things that makes it work so well is co-directors David Charbonier and Justin Powell’s hit-the-ground-running approach: The movie establishes its context and circumstances fairly quickly, while also providing just enough information about its only two major characters (a father and son duo recovering from the departure of their wife and mother, respectively) to get us interested. By the time the supernatural happenings start haunting our intrepid protagonist Dylan, we’re already invested in his survival, which makes the rest of the movie’s scares register even more than simply by virtue of their visual presentation or musical cues. Not unlike Nancy Thompson from “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” Dylan here manages to fend for himself, think quickly on his feet and try to outsmart the supernatural creature hellbent on stealing his soul, which gives the movie an exciting, anything-can-happen vibe that the filmmakers often exploit to great success by keeping Dylan on his toes, which results in the audience doing the same to try to solve his predicament along with him in real time. As Dylan, Ezra Dewey is able to craft an intelligent, likable and respectable protagonist without having much dialogue at all, which is made all the more impressive by his young age (he looks about 12 years old here), and he also shares totally believable chemistry with onscreen father Rob Brownstein, so there are emotional stakes abound. It’s not an undiscovered classic or anything like that, but it’s a solid and effective example of its genre and suggests that its filmmakers are bright new talents worth keeping an eye on.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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