Wishmaster 3: Beyond The Gates Of Hell (of The Djinn Goes To College) is an improvement over the second film in the franchise but it doesn’t quite hit the same level as the first. The first movie was a simple story of the djinn being awoken in modern day America. The second added the twist of the djinn going to prison. In this film, the djinn is freed on a college campus. This strikes me as the horror version of the Ernest movies.
The first half of Beyond the Gates of Hell is quite enjoyable. Our main character is a young college student named Diana. She is apparently a very good student and she is working on a special project with her professor in a museum. That’s where she unknowingly sets the djinn free. Diana has some crazy backstory about her parents dying (similar to Alex in the first film). It’s completely useless though and serves no real purpose in the story. I guess it is supposed to make us feel sympathetic towards her but she’s already being hunted by an evil genie and the fate of the world rests on her shoulders. I think I can muster up some sympathy for the poor girl. Especially considering that everyone in her inner circle keeps being horribly murdered. Not to mention the fact that the djinn’s human form this time around is that of the creepy professor who was trying to sleep with her.
The through line in this series is not great. In the first movie the djinn is trapped inside the fire opal which is placed inside a statue where it is eventually discovered. The same holds true for the second film. However, in this movie the fire opal is discovered inside an ancient box which also happens to be the worst trap for an ancient evil because the only thing one has to do to open the box is push the button on top. Anyone who comes across this thing is going to immediately press that thing. Also, how did the fire opal get inside the ancient box? The last time we saw it was in modern day America. Did someone go back in time to place it in this box?
Another thing that bothered me is the inconsistency in the way that the djinn takes his human form. In the first film we see him peel off a dead guy’s face and he becomes that guy. In the second movie, he just looks like the guy from the first with no explanation given. In the third we’re back to peeling off the face of a dead guy. I’m sure that had to do with casting and things beyond the filmmaker’s control but it really stood out to me. I’m starting to think that one isn’t meant to watch these films back-to-back and certainly not in a search for consistency.
All of that aside, I was really enjoying this film and then it took a completely illogical and stupid turn. In a church Diana is faced with the djinn demanding that she make her wishes (he does this without collecting the requisite number of souls required in the second movie but I’m just going to let that slide) instead of coming up with some clever wish to defeat him as in the past movies (and good for them for mixing it up), she decides the proper thing to do is summon the archangel Michael. I have no idea why she does this. At first he seems to be the answer to her problems but quickly he just becomes an annoying and mostly useless character.This is the turning point for the story and it never recovers.
I’ve come a long way into this without mentioning that this is the first Wishmaster movie not to have Andrew Divoff as the djinn. This is not a good thing for the franchise. Divoff’s work was the only thing that got me through that horrible second movie. He was a delight to watch on-screen as the djinn. He loved playing the role and it showed.
I don’t want to sound like I’m cutting down John Novak. His work as the djinn is good. It takes awhile to adjust to the new look of the character but Novak does a good job playing the part. There is an annoying effect that they put on his voice that I found distracting. The djinn’s human form is played by Jason Connery (yes, he’s Sean’s kid) in this installment. He does a great job. He’s a fine actor and extremely charismatic. This gives him the ability to be both charming and evil at the same time.
There’s one more film left in the franchise and I have no idea if I will like it or not. I’m also curious what happens this time. Does the djinn go to camp? Africa? Perhaps he saves Christmas? I’ll find out soon enough.
Ranking the films so far:
- Wishmaster 3: Beyond The Gates Of Hell
- Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies