“JINN” (Movie Review)


According to the ads, JINN is “The secret half the world has been keeping”—and they’re not the only ones. The movie opened today with no advance screenings, and in such situations one can hope for an unheralded surprise, or at least maybe a new trash classic. Unfortunately, one hilarious highlight aside, neither is the case here.

What JINN is is a film in which no small amount of money and behind-the-scenes expertise has been expended on the cinematic equivalent of fan fiction. Writer/director Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad also designed the creatures, titles and central vehicle (more on that in a moment), and his hero is Shawn (Dominic Rains), a graphic illustrator of superheroes, monsters and hot cars who has an equally hot wife. (Does this make JINN an unofficial remake of Matt Busch’s CONJURE?) Said spouse, Jasmine (Serinda Swan), is beautiful but just can’t seem to make dinner without burning it, and on a more serious note, reveals to Shawn early in the movie that she’s incapable of having children—and that it’s perfectly fine if he therefore decides to leave her for another woman.


Having established an attitude toward its one female character that’s as ancient as its mythology, JINN gets into the meat of its tale. This scenario is first established by a prologue set in a turn-of-the-20th-century India that looks remarkably like Michigan, where the rest of the film was lensed and takes place. Back then, a religious warrior named Jehangir (also played by Rains) took on an evil jinn, one of a race of beings born of fire at the same time man was created from clay and angels from light. The creature swore to kill each generation of Jehangir’s offspring, though you’d think exterminating the first would pretty much nip the bloodline in the bud, but anyway, it’s now Shawn’s turn to assume his position as a guardian of humanity.

Ahmad’s goal was apparently to introduce heretofore unexplored folklore into the screen landscape, but JINN winds up being another case of potentially intriguing material being wrapped up in the same old hokum about prophecies and chosen ones and ancient talismans and magic daggers and protective religious figures and asylum inmates with knowledge of arcane secrets. Those assisting Shawn are Father Westhoff, played by William Atherton as if he really can’t believe the lines he has to say, and Gabriel, portrayed by Ray Park. A long way from THE PHANTOM MENACE and X-MEN, Park figures in the aforementioned silly sequence in which Gabriel fights off a bunch of possessed asylum inmates, the unintentionally funniest display of martial-arts prowess since Nicolas Cage kicked Leelee Sobieski in the face in THE WICKER MAN.

Too bad Gabriel lets his guard down to telekinetically fetch Shawn’s car keys for him—but then, Shawn’s car, the “Firebreather,” is also a key figure in JINN, confirming more than one bit of dialogue speculation that it can outrun the titular creatures. Perhaps this is to be expected in a movie lensed in and around the Motor City, and evidently more effort was put into making the Firebreather an impressive piece of automotive construction than into telling a coherent story or establishing memorable characters. (We even learn, during the endless closing credits, who the owners of the first run of actual Firebreathers are.) In general, JINN is more accomplished technically than creatively; Robert Mehnert’s cinematography, Noah Sorota’s music and the visual FX supervised by Joseph H. Coleman are all proficient enough, if rather generic for this genre, and Robert Kurtzman, who previously wrought and directed a djinn in WISHMASTER, does a good job with the assorted makeup and creature FX. But the budgetary restrictions show when JINN becomes one of those films in which a spiritual conflict that threatens worldwide catastrophe is settled with the supernatural equivalent of a street fight.

Once the world is saved (SPOILER ALERT?), JINN continues to a closing scene with the tone of a paranormal sitcom, and following the first few of those multitudinous credits, offers a moment of intertheological solidarity suggesting a “faith-based” picture. If you stick around long enough after that, you’ll learn that this movie is “Part of the Exxodus Continuum” and that “The Jinn Will Return.” But I wouldn’t put too much faith in that last statement.


Related Articles
About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor, the position he holds to this day while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews.
  • Danelle Kane

    it’s really a shame that you couldn’t see past your western view and need to simply “watch” a movie. there’s obviously more of a storyline and foreshadowing of a larger scale story. Jinn is probably the start of something super cool. but you’d have to be creative and have insight to appreciate a story being set up. i saw it. i loved it. it left me intrigued and looking forward to learning more about the exxodus continuum ;)

  • Stephanie C

    I am honestly wondering if we saw the same movie. I found Jinn to be an amazing thriller with some points of hilarity, but moreover a realistic quality through the storyline reactions of the characters. So not every woman can cook and Jasmine is hot, that is in no way an attack on women, this is her personality and she takes it in stride. Trust me I am a woman I burn pretty much everything I try to cook too, shocking right. Furthermore, what woman who hid from her spouse that she couldn’t concieve children would not offer the same that Jasmine offered to Shaun? She was upset and did not want to loose him and knew he wanted a family. The character development here helps you connect with the characters on a personal level. Could these characters have been developed even more? Yes perhaps, but for the viewer to feel a connection this was a great way to develop an emotional connection with Shaun and Jasmine. It is not about her inability to cook or bear children, or her comment to him about him leaving her for another that can give him children but a way to show their deep love for each other in a real moment that could happen and has happened to many.

    Let’s address your issues with the main storyline and the history of the Jinn. You make snarky remarks about the Jinn creature killing off the entire bloodline, which should have ended with Jehangir, however, if you had paid attention to the movie instead of picking apart trying to find things wrong you would have realized that Jehangir had survived, and escaped the creatures cavern. Furthermore, the history of the Jinn, and Shaun bloodline’s guardianship is an intriguing and different take on the supernatural and is far from the overused vampires or zombies that are so popular right now. Not only does the story bring out this new supernatural character that is not widely known but Ahmed was able to bring a new spin to a story and thrill audiences he was also able to find a way to meld Abrahamic religions through this story. The story of the Jinn is told throughout the movie and I find it interesting that you were only able to focus on the similarities of talismans and ancient folklore symbols that the movie had to other mythologic creature movies in the past, instead of looking at the new story and characters that were created with the Jinn good and evil.

    The characters of Father Westhoff and Gabriel you point out as if there was poor acting, or that they were too good for the roles. Your comments make it clear that you really did not pay attention to the movie or the acting at all. One might think you have a vendetta against the movie for other reasons because your comments make little sense to someone who has seen the movie. While I will agree that the fight scene with Gabriel was too long and the music choice made the scene seem out of place, the rest of the acting by these character was expectedly astounding. Both actors brought comedic relief when necessary but also intense acting that had you falling in love with Gabriel and seeing Father Westhoff as that overprotective and somewhat omniscient connection to history.

    The movie on the whole had me and my girlfriends that were with me jumping in our seats, and the graphics were awesome, even with a small budget, the special effects and graphics were so far above what one would expect. Not to mention, the firebreather car was a great way to bring the Motor City into the film using Shaun’s creation for work. But hey I doubt you caught that part either since you were so wrapped up trying to find negative things to say about the movie.

    • Axel Palmer

      Ajmal…is that you?

Back to Top