The Jinn Awakens
Netflix’s first Arab-original series Jinn is an interesting and teen-orientated show that blends horror, fantasy and teen angst into 5 episodes of supernatural drama. While some of the acting is a little wonky at times and the teen drama feels like well-trodden ground, following in the footsteps of The Order, Sabrina and Riverdale before it, if you can look past that there’s enough originality with the premise to make it a series worth checking out.
We begin the first episode with a group of teenagers preparing for a school trip to Petra, excitedly discussing an upcoming party that night. However, one of the boys called Tareq confronts Yassin over something he’s said at school to their teacher before they all head off to the ruins.
On the way, the kids discuss the mysterious Jinn and it’s alleged presence in the world. This mythical creature is trying to get back to the human world and will do whatever it can to do just that. As the guys arrive at Petra, we learn more about the Jinn as they stare up at a beautiful carved temple in the rock. The tour guide then delivers more exposition, telling us that the Jinn can take any form, including both human and animal.
Away from the group, Tareq chases Yassin into a tight space inside the temple where he ends up urinating on him. As Tareq walks away, sneering and chuckling to himself, a scorpion bites Yassin before a mysterious girl called Vera appears and helps him out of the hole and back to the group.
As night descends, some of the students sneak away to drink next to the temple while the rest listen to tribal chanting, singing and flute playing from the tour guide. It’s here where Hassan starts hearing voices before throwing up on the ground. As the group head back, Tareq falls and breaks his neck in a weird throwback to Hassan’s earlier comment about wishing him to fall and do just that. As the paramedics arrive to take Tareq’s body away, the kids are told to get back on the bus.
We then return to the city with our various main characters and their families. Mira refuses to talk to her Father about what’s happened while Yassin stands up to his step father’s toxicity back at his house. We catch up with Mira again listening to her audio recorder from the day at Petra before a strange cloud of smoke outside materialises into a figure called Kerasquioxian. He tells her she’s the key to saving her friends before disappearing again.
Still reeling from what she’s heard, back at school the next day Hassan is convinced that Tareq was killed by the Jinn. Nasser then takes his anger out on Yassin and confronts him about Tareq’s death before Vera stands up and promises to make Nasser pay. A few minutes later, as they take their seats at assembly, Nasser stands up, proclaiming he doesn’t deserve this world and slits his own throat.
As an opening episode, Jinn gets off to a pretty good start and certainly ends things on a particularly surprising note. Some of the teen drama is a little formulaic if I’m honest and the ideas aren’t wholly original but the execution itself is pretty good. The special effects and general cinematography are well executed and the Arabic-pop soundtrack helps ground this into teen territory.
Quite what direction Jinn goes from here is anyone’s guess but this teen drama has enough originality to keep you hooked for the next episode.