On Wishmaster

From the first time I saw Wishmaster, I loved it, mainly because Andrew Divoff really brings a lot of life to The Djinn/Nathaniel Demerest. According to the LetterBoxed review on how the Dijinn work:

There’s more going-on in Wishmaster than other criticisms might lead you to believe. For a start, there’s the central premise of a dark geni (“Djinn”), that grants any wishes, but with a horrific twist. This is something developed to its full extent in Wishmaster, as the Djinn socially manipulates its targets or obstacles into declaring a wish – literal or figurative – and then granting it. That’s its nature.

It even describes to one of its victims that it has ultimate power, but can only use it when asked to grant a wish. Thus, when someone wishes it would walk away, it finds itself doing so. When someone wishes they could see the Djinn’s attempt to “go through” them, they literally gets that wish granted. When someone wishes to remain beautiful forever, they’re moulded into a mannequin.

It’s a “concept film”, which takes a central idea and experiments with it – someone wishes the Djinn would kill itself, and it attempts to do so, but cannot, because evil is a permanent fixture in creation. But the attempt still “hurt like hell”. Of course, wishing the Djinn to kill itself is an unoriginal wish, and the Djinn boasts of its immortality. But it doesn’t figure that its prey could just wish it had never been freed from its gem in the first place.

Wishing the Djin to kill itself can be granted, with a cheap, dualist get-out clause that allows the Djinn to continue existing, but wishing it to have never been freed is the next step-down from that, and works because it isn’t technically “death”. It’s stuff like that – experimenting with the logistics of a Djinn’s existence, even if it does reset the narrative as a solution. Apparently there are three sequels. Not sure how they’re supposed to work.

But for ninety minutes, it does get you engaging with the central premise. The effects are funnier than intended, and the acting is also way-off the mark, but it’s fun to watch despicable people getting what they deserve in torturous way. It’s schlock, but fun schlock. Though hardly definitive.

The following sequels (Wishmaster 2: Evil Never DiesWishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell, and Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled) never really measure up to this film. According to the SFGate review:

A man gets decapitated by his piano. It’s a first in a movie, and just about the only clever moment in the plodding, bloody horror fest called “Wishmaster,” new from Wes Craven .

“Wishmaster” isn’t really a Wes Craven film — he put his name on it as the presenting executive producer in a crass attempt to cash in on “Scream’s” success. But we’re not fooled by this Hollywood game.

The new movie is an extravaganza of bad special effects and worse acting. People lose their skins and become gloppy latex freaks, or have mucusy monsters burst from their stomachs, or simply blow up entirely and splatter fake blood hither and yon. Make that yawn.

Craven hit pay dirt with “Scream” because he made it himself and spoofed his own teen slasher films (“Nightmare on Elm Street”). And it was sexy.

“Wishmaster,” directed by special-effects man Robert Kurtzman, is a dopey twist on the old genie-with- three-wishes genre. Sexiness is the lone responsibility of Tammy Lauren, who has a terrific talent for screaming and groaning amid all the heaving hemoglobin.

The horrors are courtesy of a ruth less villain called “the Djinn” (pronounced “jin”). He’s drawn from ancient mythology and is evil incarnate. By a hokey movie trick he is transported into the ’90s in a gem that neatly introduces him to pert gemologist Alexandra (Lauren), whom he stalks.

The Djinn (Andrew Divoff) is on a mission to make people want things, so he can grant their wishes. One woman, for example, wishes to be beautiful forever, so he turns her into a mannequin. He laughs deeply and meanly. That gets very tedious after seven dozen people are granted wishes amid sucking sounds and a few vats of blood.

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