Thursday, October 20, 2011

Unseen Halloween: Wishmaster

Every year around Halloween I try to check out horror films that I’ve never seen before. It feels like I’m starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. If anyone has any suggestions for Unseen Halloween, I’d be glad to hear them.

I had never seen Wishmaster until the other night. If you still haven’t seen it, and before you rush off to check it out, allow me to point out that the only reason I watched it was because my cable and internet were both out. Oh, and the film is really, really bad. 

Meet Alexandra, played by Tammy Lauren (the casting call must have read “Must be able to convincingly act like you’re having violent mental breakdowns and nervous episodes for half the movie). She works as an appraiser or something for an auctioneer firm. After a mishap at the city’s docks that kills Sam Raimi’s brother, a centuries-old, evil Djinn is released and wreaks havoc in Alexandra’s (or, Alexandraaaa as the Djinn calls her) life. You see, when a dock worker drinks a little too much on the job, he accidentally drops a crate that was containing the imprisoned-in-a-jewel Djinn (that’s where Raimi goes splat). Another dock worker steals the jewel (apparently all dock workers are drunks and thieves according to this film) and pawns it off, and that’s where Alexandra gets involved. She spends the rest of the movie trying to outsmart the Djinn.

One of the big plot points about the movie is that, if the Djinn is able to grant three full wishes to someone, he can unleash hell on Earth or something. Here’s the thing, though. Every “wish” he grants is actually a horrible, twisted nightmare version of what the wisher actually wanted. And most of the time, the results don’t even make sense. For instance, a pretty department store girl wishes that she could stay young and beautiful forever after the Djinn buys a suit. And he turns her into a mannequin. 

I get that he’s evil and he just wants to cause suffering, but there’s not a whole lot of logic behind the wishes he grants, and he does that sort of thing throughout the whole movie. You wish for the Djinn to die, he puts a bullet through his own head but it heals right up. You wish to know what he is and you just get stuck in his crystal world with him for a while (that one in particular makes no sense), you wish to escape from your shitty job and you get locked in a straightjacket in the famous Houdini water case escape trick.

And that’s why the ending makes absolutely no sense. It’s obvious the whole film is leading up to Alexandra outsmarting the Djinn with her final wish, so when she finally unleashes it at the film’s climax, it’s a complete let-down. I was wondering what she could possibly think of, what wish she could make that would win the day, considering that the Djinn seems to just do whatever he wants when someone makes a wish. So Alexandra wishes (spoiler alert) that the dock worker hadn’t been drinking that morning. Seriously. That’s it.

The film's got some good technical effects and some very bad computer effects, and features appearances from Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Kane Hodder (played Jason Voorhees a bunch of times), and Tony Todd (Candyman).

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