The heck of the thing with Genie’s (or Djinn if you wanna be correct about things) is that no one seems to get the poor fella’s right. I mean, the closest that I can think of is maybe The Wishmaster, which, while not a good film or series, does do right by them, sorta. I mean, the thing about Djinn are that they are jerks, essentially. They are dark spirits who hate humans, clear and simple, and from that we put them into lamps and made them fun loving wish-dealers. Ah, but then comes a movie like Red Sands, which takes us to the wonderful land of the Djinn and gives us a much truer tale to the nature and temperament of these ancient boogey-men.
During a military excursion in the Middle East, several American personnel are stationed to watch over a road that has become a haven for snipers. Despite being unable to find the road, the personnel reluctantly take the assignment in stride but with trepidation as they settle into an abandoned home. As the desert begins to exert its control on them with shifts in wind and weather, they begin to feel the malevolent presence of something that is watching them. Suddenly these soldiers are being hunted by a creature that does not just hide in the shadows but is the shadow itself, and, having been freed of its prison, is now in search of victims once more. Unless the soldiers can work together and overcome the trickery of the Djinn, none of them will make it back alive.
An interesting, if lackluster film, this was similar in ways to the same director’s much better Dead Birds, which also pitted people against a supernatural enemy in a spooky locale. The premise is pretty fun, though the actors, while decent, don’t bring anything new to their roles. This is a film where you need the actors to really step it up and, with nominal performances, and mediocre writing, it just doesn’t really do much. The scares are there, but the Djinn is never a real character. It is, in a way, but we never get more than shades of what it can do, so the film plays out as a ghost story. As a ghost story it’s ok, and the tension is certainly there, but as much work as they put into making this a credible threat, you never get a real feel for what IT is. The film is well made, and is leagues above the usual direct to video fare, and this is a solid filmmaker, but this just doesn’t come together completely. This is a quiet horror film that needed to be a little louder, perhaps. Worth checking out, especially for free on Netflix if you run across it there, but not worth going out of your way to see.
6 out of 10