Release of Arabic-English thriller Djinn delayed until summer
Horror fans looking forward to Djinn, the second locally produced title from Imagenation, will have to wait a few more months before the film hits cinema screens.
The supernatural thriller, based in Ras Al Khaimah and directed by Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame, was previously scheduled for release towards the start of 2012, but it now seems delays in post-production will push the date back to the summer.
"It should hopefully be out in the middle of this year," said Mohammed Al Otaiba, the head of Imagenation Abu Dhabi. "It just took slightly longer than planned."
Set in Ras Al Khaimah several years in the future, Djinn follows the story of a young Emirati couple who return home and move into a luxury high-rise, only to discover that their neighbours might not be entirely human.
The film flashes back to before the apartments were built, to when the site was an abandoned fishing village and shows a visiting American backpacker being introduced to the concept of local spirits - djinn - by two Emiratis.
But the film has recently come under fire from some horror film bloggers.
One website said that after a test screening in London - where it went down very well with the audience - two distributors offered to buy Djinn but were turned down. Imagenation's head of communications, Danielle Perissi, said that was not true.
"No formal offers were made for Djinn whatsoever," Ms Perissi said.
Sources close to the production claim the film has been finished since the end of October. "From a technical point of view, the film is ready to go," said one, who did not wish to be named.
Others suggest that certain scenes might have to be reshot before it will released.
Mr Al Otaibi, who served as a cultural consultant on the film before his appointment with Imagenation to ensure that local values were respected, insists that there is nothing wrong with the film's content and that no reshooting is necessary.
He refuted the blogs' claims that the film "addresses a type of witchcraft that is not recognised with the beliefs of the nation".
"The story is absolutely fine. We all grew up hearing stories about djinn and what they do. There is nothing that is in any way controversial."
Instead, Mr Al Otaiba says the delays are related to the film's computer graphics and sound effects. "All the rumours are false. The film is going ahead."
On set last year, the subject matter was taken very seriously. During filming, which took place in the historic village of Al Jazira Al Hamra, near Ras Al Khaimah city, and Dubai, the word "djinn" was banned, to the point that the film's title was taped over on the director's chair.
The first horror film offered in Arabic and English, Djinn stars the Bahrain-born actor Khalid Laith, recently seen in The Devil's Double, and the Lebanese actress Razane Jammal.
It is the second of Imagenation's UAE productions after Sea Shadow, by the Emirati director Nawaf Al Janahi. That film received its world premiere at the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival in October and is screening at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Thursday and Saturday.