PLOT: An ancient demonic djinn is released from its imprisonment and grants wishes that come with a deadly price.
There’s something off-putting about Wishmaster, and not in the way that I think the filmmakers intended. First of all, this was made in 1997, which will forever be known as such a weird time for CGI effects. Toy Story showed what could be done with computers two short years prior, which I guess undid all the goodwill that Jurassic Park created by mixing practical and CGI. Pixar’s success opened the gate for smaller-scaled failure, and Wishmaster 100% fits that description.
Another thing, and maybe this is just me: the Wishmaster, in his true demonic form, is too jacked. We’ve had plenty of hulky bad guys: Jason Voorhees, Rob Zombie’s interpretation of Michael Myers, those garbage See No Evil movies that the WWE produces. It’s not uncommon, but none of those guys talk and their scariness is that they can just put you through a goddamn wall.
The Wishmaster is more like Freddy: charismatic and cunning, Freddy’s scary because he can outthink you; that should be the same for the Wishmaster. But when the Wishmaster shows up looking like he has the same mobility Christian Bale did in his Batman Begins suit, it really nerfs the scare factor. It’s like if you ran afoul of Joe Rogan in a back alley, and instead of just smashing your head into the concrete, which he most assuredly could, he just tries to confuse you with a discussion on DMT and facts about gorillas.
Wishmaster starts in ancient Persia, when a sorcerer traps a djinn in a stone. None of this matters, but we immediately cut to the present day (1997) and the djinn, through circumstances involving drunk crane operators and overenthusiastic jewelers unleash the djinn from his prison. In order to gain more power, the djinn goes around granting wishes to randos he encounters, all of which carry a deadly price. It’s classic “monkey’s paw” sort of shit, where the wishes are somewhat vague, so the djinn can turn them into mannequins or glass. The search for this stone that trapped him for so long leads the Wishmaster on a collision course with a pretty blonde that works in an auction house.
There’s things to like about this, but it’s biggest fault is that it relies so heavily on special effects that just don’t hold up nowadays. It must have been a weird time to be in horror, because all these geniuses in the genre were now saddled with a changing landscape, trying to figure out a whole new technology. This was directed by Robert Kurtzman, a horror makeup genius, and now he’s having to oversee computer-rendered glass people exploding into shards in an era where the technology was assuredly not ready to do the things filmmakers asked it to do. It looks so bad, I thought this was a straight-to-video movie, but it actually grossed $15 million domestically.
Wishmaster feels like a movie you’d pull off the video store shelf because you’ve passed it over a number of times, but the box art is cool enough and Blockbuster had no more copies of Dante’s Peak. It’s cool to see a whole bunch of horror people show up in this one, but that just makes you wish you were watching those better movies. I shouldn’t use the word wish I suppose, lest I get sucked into Candyman or something.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 10