After Scream 2, this month's other Wes Craven frightfest (he executive produces) is presumably hoping for a successful run at the box office by association. However, given its promising credentials and nifty premise - a demon granting its victims' every wish - it's a shame the ensuing offering turns out to be so leaden.
When the aforementioned irascible imp (Divoff) - known as the Djinn - is first awoken from his thousand year kip by school teacher Tammy Lauren, he resembles nothing so much as a chewing-gum covered foetus with asthma. But, driven by an "ancient" voiceover, he has soon assumed human form and is granting wishes left, right and centre (a sort of Djinn'll Fix It, if you will) with a warped sense of humour - poaching souls he needs to fill the earth with loads of little genie playmates. And, needless to say, these aren't of the Robin Williams variety.
As a reworking of the old "careful what you wish for" concept, and that one slip of the tongue or an irrational thought could prove disastrous, Wishmaster has legs but is left utterly hamstrung by the mediocre pile of tosh that follows. Produced by or starring a veritable roll-call of the genre's finest, including Kane "Jason" Hodder, Candyman's Tony Todd and the ubiquitous Robert Englund as well as Craven, it somehow pulls off the trick of being neither scary nor funny - the latter having become a useful get-out clause on today's horror circuit.
There's buckets of guts, as expected, but it lacks the kind of arch knowingness, pacing or sumptuous sets which punctuate other Craven outings. And with some truly dreadful dialogue thrown in on top (much of which is thankfully drowned out by the decidedly dodgy soundtrack), this is one flick that should have stayed bottled.