It goes without saying that only genre lovers need apply for “Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled”, the fourth installment in the saga of a hard luck Djinn who can’t seem to get anyone to make a third wish so he can rule the world, or some such nonsense. With “Wishmaster 4”, the Djinn (played in costume by John Novak and out of costume by Michael Trucco) finally gets a woman to make that elusive third wish, except the wish has a catch and the Djinn is powerless to grant it! (I would like to re-visit the franchise, but I’m too lazy, so I’ll just point to the relevant reviews (“Wishmaster 1 and 2” and “Wishmaster 3”)).
If you’ve read my review for the previous installment, then you know I’m not very happy with the series. Thankfully “Wishmaster 4” has reaffirmed my belief that this particular horror franchise is still a worthwhile guilty pleasure. Chris Angel returns to direct “4”, but this time around the screenplay is by John Benjamin Martin, who thankfully has a better grasp of common sense than Alex Wright, who should be stoned for taking money to “write” part 3. It comes as no surprise that the series creators seem to have stopped caring about the logic of how the ruby gem that imprisons the Djinn gets around. In part 4, as was the case in part 3, the ruby sort of just, well, shows up. Could someone please put some effort into this?
The Djinn’s new “waker” this time around is Lisa (Tara Spencer-Nairn), a young woman living with her crippled boyfriend Max (Jason Thompson). The couple is anxiously waiting for their lawyer Verdel (Michael Trucco) to get some corporate lawyers to settle on a lawsuit stemming from the accident that crippled Max. Well actually Lisa is waiting, but Max has already given up on the money, their relationship, sex, and Lisa. Without the use of his legs, Max is no longer capable of giving Lisa what she needs, which is convenient since the Djinn soon takes over Verdel’s body and begins to seek Lisa’s affections. Will the Djinn get Lisa to make that third wish? Will he finally be able to unleash his fellow Djinns into the world? Better yet, will the Djinn finally get some good ol fashion lovin’?
The answers to the above questions are: Yes sort of, No sort of, and most definitely Yes. Without series star Andrew Divoff to play the Djinn in human form, the series has now used the ol “inhabit a body” gimmick to give the Djinn a new look with each installment. The Djinn this time around is Michael Trucco, who plays the slick lawyer with the right amount of sleaze, lust, and cunning. I would go so far as to say that should there be another installment, the filmmakers must really consider bringing Trucco back. I’d rather see more of Trucco as the Djinn than John Novak in that awful body makeup because, frankly, the film slips into embarrassment territory each time the Novak-Djinn shows up for too long.
Permanently gone from the franchise are the chills and thrills. The series has essentially given up trying to scare us, and is now only going for gore, sex, and cheap special effects. The gore is provided early on by a lawyer who literally loses his tongue and then cuts off his nose, but the rest of the film is relatively bloodless. The sex is provided by lead Tara Spencer-Nairn in various stages of undress, including a romp with the Trucco-Djinn on the sofa. And the cheap special effects are kept to a minimum, and mostly consists of the other Djinns showing up in fake-looking “walls of fire” to chastise the Djinn. For a bunch of evil demons that are imprisoned and needs the Djinn to free them, the other Djinns sure don’t show our Djinn much respect.
There is an attempt by the filmmakers to give the Djinn some human qualities this time around, but all of that goes out the window because, simply put, the dialogue written for the Novak-Djinn is just horrible. Cheesy, stilted, and just bad. On the plus side, Chris Angel’s direction seems to have improved despite the lower budget, which calls for a smaller cast and minimum locations. The actors all do decent jobs, with Tara Spencer-Nairn pulling off the heroine role with flair and conviction.
But once again the film really lets you down when it comes to its heavenly connections. This time around a “hunter” is unleashed in order to help stop the Djinn, but the actor playing the hunter looks like he’s never seen a sword before, much less play the part of an ancient warrior that’s supposed to be handy with a broadsword. It’s called research, guys, look it up. And for someone who is supposed to be a warrior of God, the hunter sure didn’t show a lot of mercy to that innocent woman whose head he just coolly chopped off.
“Wishmaster 4” is better than the previous installment, but that’s not saying much. Now if only they can start putting more thought to explain how the Djinn’s ruby gem keeps getting passed around…
Chris Angel (director) / John Benjamin Martin (screenplay)
CAST: John Novak …. Djinn
Tara Spencer-Nairn …. Lisa Burnley
Michael Trucco …. Steven Verdel
Jason Thompson …. Max
Victor Webster …. Hunter