Wishmaster - 1/2*


What is the problem with most horror movies today? Out of all mainstream genres, the horror genre has the most horrible production values, bad scripts, and even worse acting. I guess part of the blame lies with its uncaring fan base, who are willing to indiscriminately plunk down their money for the latest offering. As a result, we are tormented with bad movie after worse. Each one striving to become the next “cult hit”, or form the basis for umpteen sequels. Wishmaster is yet the latest horror film to stroll down this familiar path. And while it has an intriguing idea at its core, it fails capitalize upon it in any way.

Dwelling between the Earth and Heaven are a race of evil, all-powerful beings called the Djinn. The Djinn hold an intense hatred for all humankind, but when the occassional Djinn breaks through to Earth, it is prevented from using its powerful magic. The Djinn can only use their magic if asked to by a denizen of Earth. At such a time, the Djinn will grant the wish (with an unmentioned cost…the wisher’s soul). If the human who initially releases the Djinn makes three wishes, the barrier between the spirit world and Earth will break, and the Djinn shall rule all.

Such is the convoluted backstory to Wishmaster, very loosely based on the ancient myths and legends. The film opens with a disgusting, but somewhat entertaining (especially when compared with the rest of the film), prologue in ancient Persia, the last time the Djinn roamed the earth. However, the evil Djinn is contained just in time.

Flash forward to the present day. The gemstone which contains the Djinn is discovered and makes its way into the hands of a jeweler (Tammy Lauren), who accidentally releases the malevolent creature. The Djinn then proceeds to wander throughout the city, making people wish for something, then granting it in the most evil way possible.

Of course, the Djinn is rather stupid in his attempts. Rather than lull the jeweler into complacency with nice soothing wishes, he proceeds to terrorize and make life hell for her. He loses sight of his long range goal, and just doesn’t think.

Not that there’s much thinking going on here…either in front of or behind the camera. There may have been some potential in an evil genie wreaking havoc, but none of it translates to the screen. Instead, the screenplay goes through numerous contortions to get the characters met by the Djinn make some sort of wish (and many of them boil down to the same wish…to cause someone to die). It’s a film that cries out for imagination and smothers due to the lack thereof. The screenplay is also completely full of holes… an understandable fault given an omnipotent villain, but an annoying one nonetheless.

There’s not a single interesting character in the whole film. The jeweler is the only one who gets even the slightest development, and that is a seemingly random collection of events to give her a weak spot that the Djinn can exploit.

If you’re looking for a unique film that will break the horror genre’s pathetic track record, you won’t find it here. Wishmaster 2 is already in development, and though it can’t get much worse than the original, I’m not holding my breath.

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