Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Be Afraid...Be Very Afraid": A Horror Movie about Jinn?

"You ain't never had a friend like me!" Uh...no.
Like many movie-goers, I love a good horror flick. Unfortunately in Hollywood, a halfway decent one is few and far between. Some border on goofy campy horror (The Leprachaun series, Nightmare on Elm StreetCabin in the Woods) while others rely heavily on special effects and an unneccessarily copious amount of gore (28 Days Later, Hostel) and label that as horror. Some start out promising but then are dragged out into convuluted, contrived pieces of trash (The SAW Series, Paranormal Activity.)

A good Horror movie ideally is supposed to take the viewer out of the comfort of watching as a third party and pull you inside the film into the same helpless situation of the hero. It's supposed to make you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable without the need for cheap gags like the overuse of blood or a quick swishing camera cut. Horror movies, even if the premise or elements involved are fictional, should at least feel real; if the plot of the film can realistically happen or have actually occurred in real life, it makes it even better. If a movie gives you nightmares where you wake up in cold sweats and makes you ponder the situation long after the credits roll, it has succeeded!


Another SAW? AHHHHHHHHH!!!
The last "good" Horror movie I saw was The Last Exorcism but even that was a recycled cliche, just with a slight twist of being presented in documentary/found footage format--which apparently is all the rage these days. Horror movies today are so formulaic to the point where they are immediately classified into categories and recognized by type (ie. a slasher flick,  a zombie movie, a vampire movie, a supernatural/ghost movie). These films have been done to death and it's not appealing anymore. People are yearning for something new and different to send shivers down their spines.
And that's why I feel Hollywood needs to explore the very real concept of jinns.

The closest Hollywood and the western world for that matter has ever touched on jinn was in Disney's Aladdin with the lovable genie. Sadly, Robin Williams popping out of a lamp and singing songs and granting wishes isn't an accurate depiction of the concept. I feel it will have to take a Muslim to bring the jinn to the silver screen (not literally) and inform the masses of their existence. The archaic ghost story concept which claim ghosts to be the spirits of dead people lingering around earth stirring up stuff is such a tired (and false) perspective. Muslims know that all these ghost stories, or eye-witness accounts and haunted house reports are not because of "ghosts" being present--it's because jinns are present.

As an aspiring screenwriter, I lately have contemplated working on a screenplay which introduces the jinn concept to the western world. I have already jotted down several pages of notes outlining the first Hollywood movie ever made about jinns and my theory on how to approach it and make it intriguing to a world audience. However, it seems I have been beaten to the punch. An upcoming film currently in development by a relatively unknown production company (Exxodus Pictures) is entitled Jinn, and interestingly enough it's written and directed by a Muslim filmmaker named Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad. I first discovered news about Jinn  a year ago and stumbled upon the trailer, which announces the movie to be released in 2011. It has since been delayed for unknown reasons. Nevertheless, I was pretty excited to view the trailer and observe how this type of movie would be portrayed. After watching it though, I am not impressed on account of Jinn looking and feeling like one of those awful direct-to-video type flicks. Take a look-see for yourself:



The trailer at the onset was attention-grabbing for me and had a big movie feel. I liked the mentioning of how the Jinn concept is true and how half the world already believes in them. The symbolic animation of the crescent moon, the star of David and crucifix linking up was also a good touch. After that, the Jinn trailer becomes ridiculous and falls off the edge of the earth. So jinns are the same creatures that were in the Alien vs Predator movie? What I assumed was the depiction of the jinn looked like a stereotypical supernatural creature in an average run-of-the-mill zombie flick. Disappointing to say the least. Personally, I felt a movie about the jinn would kinda be like Paranormal Activity and The Sixth Sense mixed together but amped up in realism. This was nothing of the sort.

What? So the batmobile wasn't available?
To make matters worse, I did some extra research on the movie and read that there is a Jinn "firebreather" car in the movie. Okay... huh? Do the Jinns drive this? Or maybe the hero drives it to run over and kill Jinn? Way to go, Hollywood. You just bastardized the story of jinns in the eyes of the non-Muslim world. To explain this nonsense to myself, I pictured writer Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad initially writing a decent script about jinns but when pitching it to producers, they responded by throwing in all these gimmicks to make it "more appealing" --in their definition-- to American audiences. But seeing as how Ahmad is also directing the film and thus is in control of the vision of the script, it seems he may have borrowed a little bit of the true Quranic depiction and background of jinns and Hollywood-ify'd it. 

No matter, I think it's pretty safe to say this film is not going to live up to the expectations I had for a movie about jinn. I applaud Ahmad's efforts though and if the movie ever releases, I'll watch it, even if it's the trainwreck I expect it to be.

The potential for an accurately written and carefully crafted movie--using the information from the Qur'an and Sunnah as a base for its credibility-- about the Jinn would be huge. It would be Info-tainment at it's finest; an entertaining 90 minute roller coaster thrill ride but at the same time an informative dawah tool for non-Muslims. It has to be done. I will treat this movie that Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad is putting together as a catalyst to an even better and more true-to-Islam movie about Jinn. A prototype of sorts for subsequent movies about jinn. The concept of jinn is such a broad and fascinating subject matter, I'm surprised a movie hasn't yet embarked upon it.

So many Muslims share stories, whether true or not, about jinn experiences and are enthralled about learning the characteristics, tendencies and the overall world of the jinn, a movie made about it just makes sense. If I have to take it upon myself to develop a truthful cinematic portrayal of jinns like I had wished, than so be it. Allah will be on my side to help me, inshaAllah(God willing). 

Ultimately, I feel a good horror movie about jinn would not only be one that puts the viewer on the edge of their seat, but on top of that makes them jump out of their seat...to go grab a Qur'an and open it.

8 comments:

  1. Yeah, that movie about the Jinn is gonna be pants.

    However, I disagree with you on one teeny, tiny point. 28 Days Later was waaaaaaaaayyyy better than that lame torture-fest called "Hostel." Hostel sucked, and was just a poor excuse to see excessive violence. 28 Days Later, however, ruled! :p

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    1. Did I say 28 Days Later? I meant 28 WEEKS Later, lol

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  2. Check out www.thejinn.com for a Jinn horror novel that is rooted in the truth and traditions of Islam.

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    1. Sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing, stranger!

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  3. nice point at the end.

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  4. Wishmaster, Wishmaster 2, 3, 4, Djinn.

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  5. Good article, thumbs up from me! I know you have written this like 3 1/2 years ago, but I still wanted to leave a comment. I absolutely agree with you on the matter. Also I would like to encourage you to keep working on a script for a good jinn movie. Although there has been another attempt at the subject with the movie titled 'Djinn', released in 2013 (interestingly that one was actually released before the 'Jinn' film, that finally saw the light of day in 2014), it is not good in any sense of the word. I watched both films and neither was any good. 'Jinn' even proved more interesting than 'Djinn', but as Shakespeare said (or rather wrote): "there's small choice in rotten apples."
    I would love to see a horror movie (or a kind of mystery/thriller movie) that takes a bit more from the rich myth of the jinn than those movies do, which is in both cases near to nothing, except maybe the introductional words in 'Jinn' how God created angels, jinn & humans - still this is worth nothin for in the actual movie it never really relates back to those words and if you left the intro speech out of the movie, no one would notice. They just use parts of the creation myth from the Quran to have an eerie intro but never ever at any point does the film live up to what it is promising.
    Okay, I think I have ranted enough.
    All the best wishes & best of luck to you (whether you are still trying to make a good jinn movie/script or just generally for your life).

    David

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    1. Hiya David!

      I'm still here still alive, I just haven't had the time at the moment to invest in new content on my blog. Hopefully that all will change soon as I'm still surprised by the steady flow of readership and comments I get on here since going on sabbatical.

      Thanks for the thumbs up and your insight. I've seen both movies you mentioned as well and I actually in my time away completed writing a full length screenplay for a movie about Jinn that is accurately depicted according to Quranic scripture and inspired by real events. Hopefully InshaAllah one day I can get it swiped up by an executive and developed.

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