‘Jinn’ better as though-unintended horror parody
A trailer for Marlon Wayans’s “A Haunted House 2” preceded the screening of “Jinn” that I attended. As a horror movie parody, “Jinn,” written and directed by Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad, is probably funnier. As is often the case, though, the humor is unintentional.
In the beginning, a voiceover narrator intones, there were three beings created: man, made of clay; angels, made of light; and jinn, made of fire (if you forget this, don’t worry; it’s repeated half a dozen times in the course of the film). The jinn originally ruled the world (the angels, apparently, would have nothing to do with this nonsense). So, when men took over, some jinn rebelled. Which takes us to a cave in India in 1901, where a Jesus look-alike battles a jinn — a floating figure in a rubber mummy suit and a fright wig. Despite an enchanted blade, holy water from Mecca, and a protective mantra, the bearded guy ends up with a curse on all his descendants for his troubles.
Flash-forward to present-day Michigan, where Shawn (Dominic Rains), a budding automobile designer (he owns one of the muscle cars he helped develop, the “Firebreather”), gets a gift-wrapped package. Inside is an old VHS tape on which his dead father warns him that he must prepare to battle the jinn. Shawn thinks it’s a joke until he and his wife, Jasmine (Serinda Swan), discover that all their furniture has been rearranged! Twice! And when Jasmine disappears, blown away screaming into the woods just as she and Shawn are about to smooch — well, it’s no joke, unfortunately.
What follows involves a good jinn named Gabriel (Ray Park), who battles demonically possessed mental patients with magic kung fu; a sword-wielding priest (William Atherton), who resembles Obi-Wan Kenobi by way of Barry Fitzgerald; and a car chase between Firebreather and a malevolent plume of smoke. With its awful acting, terrible dialogue, and laughable special effects, “Jinn” strains for the hapless genius of Ed Wood, but ends up just another bad movie.
Peter Keough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.