Djinn thrills Emirates Palace audience

Several hundred lucky moviegoers got their first glimpse at the first made-in-the UAE horror film Djinn over the weekend. We find out what they thought.

Aisha Al Junabi, (right) a 26-year-old Emirati, from Abu Dhabi, “loved it.” Meera Al Rumaithy, a 27-year-old Emirati, enjoyed seeing the djinn represented on the big screen Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
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The supernatural thriller Djinn had its world premiere at Emirates Palace on Friday, where people in the packed auditorium screamed at the heart-stopping frights, chuckled during the moments of humour and gave a hearty, standing ovation at the end. It had been a long wait for the film, which was shot in Ras Al Khaimah in 2011 under the direction of the American director Tobe Hooper and was originally set for release last year. But delays aside, Emiratis seemed to be particularly impressed at how an aspect of their nation’s folklore has been reinterpreted for a worldwide audience. Hugo Berger reports

Aisha Al Junabi, a 26-year-old Emirati, from Abu Dhabi, “loved it”. “Out of 10, I would give it nine and a half. I was really scared by it. It made me jump a lot.

“It was great to see a film being set in the UAE. It was very professional, the acting was brilliant.” Meera Al Rumaithy, a 27-year-old Emirati, enjoyed seeing the djinn represented on the big screen – particularly the same scary spectre who terrorised the characters in the film.

“We all grew up hearing these stories about the djinn from our parents,” she recalls. “They used to tell us about Umm Al Duwais and we have all imagined what she looks like. So it was interesting to see another person’s representation of her “We heard about this film way back, but it was worth the wait,” she adds.

Mohamed Yahia, a 30-year-old filmmaker, also praised Djinn for its sense of atmospheric terror. “I enjoyed it as a horror movie. It made me jump, which is good as I want to be scared when I go to a horror movie,” he explains.

“I thought the story was focused more on the international market than the local market, but this makes sense if you want to make money.

“It was good to see an international story that anyone can relate to being based in the UAE.” Khulood Al Marzooqi, a 25-year-old Emirati, also enjoyed the film, but with a few reservations. “I thought some of the characters could have been developed a bit more. You had these characters come and go, without really explaining what they were for,” she says. “But overall I really liked it. I think it is a good start for the film industry in the UAE.”

Gav Lamba, a 27-year-old from the UK, “Overall, I thought they did a really good job on it. At times it was a bit clichéd and a few areas need some work, but I enjoyed it.” His fellow Briton, Reshel Shah, also 27, felt the first part of the movie was particularly successful in delivering shocks.

“The first act of the film was very scary, but it kind of tailed off a bit after that,” she says. “But the film industry in the UAE is still in its infancy, so you have to make allowances for this. It was a good film, but I am sure the UAE will make even better films in time.” Jamal Abdulmalik, a 60-year-old from the US, was not as enthused. “I would give it three out of five. I thought it was just OK,” he declares. “I thought it was quite predictable. I take pride in trying to work out how a movie ends and for this one I worked out what was going to happen pretty much from the off. “But for the first horror film produced in this country, it’s a good enough effort.”

• Djinn opens in UAE cinemas on Wednesday

*Image Nation has 30 pairs of tickets to give away – 15 for Abu Dhabi and 15 for Dubai – to attend the public premiere of Djinn. The premiere will be at 9pm, Wednesday, October 30 at Mall of Emirates in Dubai and Abu Dhabi Mall in Abu Dhabi. To win text “Djinn - Dubai” or “Djinn - Abu Dhabi” to 3660 (both Etisalat and du).