The Sleepless Movie Review
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Written and directed by Jack Sholder
96 Minutes
Rated R for horror violence and gore, strong language and some sexuality.

Wishmaster and Wishmaster 2 are some kind of fucking genius, and in my heart they're equals; picking between them is like choosing your favorite child. Wishmaster plays things a little straighter - it's definitely the more honest attempt at a halfway decent horror film of the two. Wishmaster 2, on the other hand, plays more like Hellraiser III than anything else.

Not that I mind. Hellraiser III isn't a good movie but it is pretty fucking awesome.

This review comes out of the blue in that when browsing my sister's massive list of digital cable channels, this movie came on. Now I'd already seen it at least ten times and it was on one of the first DVDs I bought, but it's been a while, and I really wanted to see that lawyer fuck himself again. My wish...was fulfilled.

Now my sister is not a horror fan, but she couldn't help but crack up through most of the movie, and that's probably because the movie is actually pretty funny. If you look at Sholder's resume with A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge, you'll see that this isn't the first time he tried to make one movie and got something else entirely. Freddy's Revenge was supposed to be a straight and solid sequel to the film that established New Line Cinema as an honest-to-God studio, but it wound up being a parable for homosexuality, and how this surprised Sholder given the content of the film is beyond me.

In much the same way, you can see where Wishmaster 2 might have had some roots as a horror film, but it clearly works better as a comedy. Divoff's performance as the Djinn is what makes this movie and its predecessor work, and the reason why the latter two sequels suck my balls with dedication and fervor. I've spoken with Divoff before, and he seemed like an intelligent, nice guy, and frankly he's not a bad actor. I'm inclined to believe he never intended his Djinn to be truly terrifying; here, he plays him delightfully impishly. His performance is remarkably nuanced and controlled throughout the movie.

It's important to mention that for all intents and purposes, the Djinn in human form should be fucking lame and dull, as has been the case in several other horror films where an inhuman creation took on a human form. But the way Divoff plays the Djinn to the fucking hilt and the odd accent and pacing he uses when he delivers his lines make the movies come alive whenever he's present. Here, in particular, most of the "plot" scenes are really just filler while we wait for him to fuck with someone else.

And he does mightily. This movie has quite an imagination and a great sense of humor to go with it. It's that curious sense of humor that permeated the lesser entries in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and indeed this franchise seems to take a lot of cues from those films in general. I don't think that's actually a bad thing; the shitty Nightmares were never totally bereft of imagination, and Freddy was always a joy to watch, at least for me.

But the Djinn is his own thing, and Divoff plays him like his own creation, and he is fucking hilarious.

Where this movie slips badly isn't with the main character named Morgana, nor with the film's utter lack of dedication to logic, nor its unwillingness to show everyone just what happens when you slow dance with the Djinn "Compton style." No, the slip falls largely on the shoulders of Father Gregory, a fucking horribly written, irritating nutsack of a character played to the heights of dull surprise by Paul Johansson. Paul, if you're out there and you're reading this, fuck you so hard. Was there no point working on this film when you didn't look up at the director and go "Do you think I'm maybe saying God too much or playing this priest thing a little too hard?" Was there no point where you thought to yourself, "Wow, I'm really boring and sucking the joy out of this film"? Is it maybe that you're the entire reason there's no chemistry between you and the thoroughly scrumptious Holly Fields? AM I GETTING WARM HERE? The Father Gregory character is like some kind of punishment for enjoying an otherwise fucking hilarious movie. I'm pretty sure if he were a real person, he would be excommunicated from the church on account of being too preachy. He's that bad.

Fuck him.

But the rest of the movie is cool. Not any damn good, but a lot of fun, at least with the right people.

- Dustin Sklavos

All written content and colored rating system copyright Dustin Sklavos 2009. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.