An A-Class B-Movie. Wishmaster (1997) Review

Wishmaster is a wonderful little horror film with its great characters and glorious blend of horror and humour.

This 1997 film revolves around a gemologist, Alex, who unknowingly frees the Djinn (an evil genie). His mission is to grant Alex three wishes so that upon the granting of the third wish he can free his race and rule the earth.

Wishmaster Pic
This’ll be a raving review just so you know.

The Djinn, Horror and Cheese

The Djinn is a great horror villain. He has a motivation and numerous methods of killing people. That, with his devilish charm, makes him a lot of fun to watch. While trying to persuade Alex to make her wishes, the Djinn collects souls from other people by granting them a single wish. This is where the film is both scary and cheesy as the wishes backfire at the grantees in absurd and disturbing ways.

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Andrew Divoff as the Djinn [Credit: Live Entertainment]
A good example of the film’s cheese is a scene at a police station, where an officer reveals his desire for a nearby criminal (who’s never been charged) to commit a crime so he can shoot him. The Djinn grants his wish and takes control of the criminal’s body, making him snatch a gun and shoot everyone. It’s ridiculous that the cop just openly states what he wants with little persuasion from the Djinn. On top of that, the way the criminal just stands up yelling and starts shooting people is hilariously silly.

A good example of the film’s horror is a scene where a medical student finds the Djinn pealing the face off a dead body. “Am I to understand that this is something you do not wish to see?” asks the genie. “Uh huh” the student replies and with a slight hand gesture, the Djinn fuses the student’s eyelids shut.

The Characters and Plot

Tammy Lauren as Alex, examining the Djinn's opal [Credit: Live Entertainment)
Tammy Lauren as Alex, examining the Djinn’s opal [Credit: Live Entertainment)

Despite the far-fetched premise, the characters and plot are quite solid. They’re a lot more engaging than those in your average horror film.

Alex is an understandable and decent protagonist. Whenever she’s on screen, you’re not bored and waiting for the Djinn to come back, you’re engaged. She has a flaw (her guilt following her mother’s death) and a reason to pursue the Djinn (he murdered her best friend). You won’t be invested in her as you’d be in Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy but you’ll be watching to see if she defeats the Djinn or not.

 

Some of the supporting characters are pretty fun and likable, Alex’s Boss Nick Merritt for example. He’s a greedy, patronizing, sassy man who loves cash and valuable items.

Wendy Derleth, a Uni professor Alex meets for info on the Djinn, is also a fun character. As well as being funny and grumpy, she comes across as very wise and honest.  When she tells Alex about the history and legacy of the Djinn, she makes it sound quite chilling.

While Alex, the Djinn and the supporting characters make Wishmaster an engaging film, the plot produces some real fun and tension. The Djinn tries everything to get a wish out of Alex, such as tormenting her with visions of the souls he’s taken and threatening to kill her sister. She tries to resist but as the Djinn’s methods become more extreme she struggles. The plot escalates to an explosive climax with a rather clever resolution and a surprisingly happy ending.

I’ve known Wishmaster for over seven years now and have been watching it every Halloween since. Its horror, humour, characters and plot are hard for me not to like. It’s a beautifully wacky film to watch with a group of friends this Halloween.

I know how biased this may seem but for what it is I give Wishmaster a wonderful 9 out of 10.

 

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