Note: This film was reviewed from a digital screener. Screen and Stage encourages its readers to follow safety precautions outlined by health authorities.
THE DJINN (Dirs. David Charbonier and Justin Powell, 2021, In theaters and on VOD now) - David Charbonier and Justin Powell have proven themselves to be among the most promising new filmmakers with THE DJINN and their extraordinary debut feature, THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR (releasing July 29 on Shudder). They manage to take seemingly tired or preposterous premises, in this case a mute boy conjures up an evil genie to grant his wish of being able to speak, and breathe new life into them. Charbonier and Powell know just how much to show, whether it be their monster or gore, teasing the audience and slowly unnerving them. The filmmakers are resourceful with how they use their small location and provoke genuine fear over the course of this clever little film, and the nearly-wordless lead performance by the young Ezra Dewey (also one of the two stars of THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR) is frighteningly committed. While the film's conclusion doesn't quite land with as much dramatic impact as one might hope, the rest of the film is so strong that it doesn't ruin what has come before. Be on the lookout for Charbonier and Powell - it shouldn't be long before Hollywood comes knocking. 3/4