Djinn – United Arab Emirates, 2011

djinn

Djinn is a 2011 supernatural thriller film directed by Tobe Hooper (Lifeforce; PoltergeistThe Texas Chain Saw Massacre) from a screenplay by David Tully. It is set in the United Arab Emirates and features a djinn. The film, produced by Image Nation, is in both Arabic and English languages.

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With a production budget of US$5 million, filming began in the United Arab Emirates in late March 2011 and took place at several locations throughout Dubai. The subject matter was treated with caution so it would not offend locals. In Al Jazira Al Hamra, the cast and crew avoided using the word “djinn” and also taped over the film’s title on the director’s chair.

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The film had a test screening in December 2011 in London. It was offered “a red-carpet premiere” at the 2011 Dubai International Film Festival but was not screened at the festival. The studio promised a theatrical release in 2012 but it never transpired.

In December 2012, The Guardian reported that unofficial reasons included people related to Abu Dhabi’s royal family finding the film “to be politically subversive”, horror films being “seen as totally foreign, culturally speaking” in the United Arab Emirates, and local pride had led to “rewrites and restructuring”. Image Nation’s CEO Michael Garin denied such reasons and blamed the delay on meeting the Directors Guild of America’s requirements. The Guardian went on to note: “there is no fundamental incompatibility between Islam and the film’s subject matter: djinns are part of Qur’anic cosmology and related folklore, and there is a small existing body of Arab-language horror, mostly from Egypt: Sadir Guhannam (“The Ambassador of Hell”), from 1945, is cited as the first such film.”

djinn-2012

In the near future, a young Emirati couple returns to their home country and moves into a high-rise apartment in Ras al-Khaimah. They discover that their neighbors may not be human. The film also flashes back to an abandoned fishing village, where the apartment was eventually built. In the area of the village, an American backpacker learns about djinn from local Emiratis…

Reviews:

” …Djinn has a lot going for it. Good acting. A unique mythos to play off of. One which hasn’t been beaten to death. The Djinn are malevolent and terrible beings and you know nothing good is going to happen. The effects are pretty decent consisting of part practical effects and some restrained CGI. The sets are lovely, the interior design of the apartment is beautiful.” Che Gilson, UK Horror Scene

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