I’ve watched my fair share of shitty movies and I’ve also spent my fair share thinking about genies so it’s pretty much inevitable that I’d write about Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled. I’m sure I’m probably late to the game on this one since the movie came out in 2002 but—
What’s that? I’m not late? I’m the only one here. Well that makes it a bit easier.
Wishmaster 4 was the final entry in the Wishmaster series so it’s the one with the least amount of production value on screen which is unfortunate because this movie actually has a pretty interesting premise as far as evil genie movies go. Now don’t go rushing to pick up a copy of this because of what I just said; it is not a good movie and I’m inclined to believe that anything interesting that happened in this movie is purely by accident. (I don’t think they’ll be using my quotes for the Blu-Ray re-release edition.)
If you’ve never seen a Wishmaster movie that’s probably because you were spending your formative years learning valuable interpersonal skills. (For the record, I have fantastic interpersonal skills like pretending to look at my iPhone and mumbling compliments.) Here’s an SAT analogy for this horror franchise: Wishmaster is to Leprechaun as Leprechaun is to A Nightmare on Elm Street. Freddy kills you with dreams, the Wishmaster with wishes, and the Leprechaun with…rhyming couplets, I suppose? It gives me hope for my new horror movie where the monster is a deadly Trapper Keeper that kills you with your hopes.
Sorry, I got sidetracked.
All you really need to know going into any Wishmaster movie is that it’s about an evil genie (or djinn) with ill-defined magical powers, ill-defined weaknesses, and some kind of an ill-defined goal like a genie apocalypse that can only be achieved by successfully granting three wishes to whoever released him. I guess that’s standard fare for any evil genie movie. After the genie is released, he wreaks a minimal amount of havoc by granting people their wishes but with some cruel, ironic twist that ends with them dying. And yes, it does feel incredibly forced and unnatural every time it happens.
Wishmaster 4 is no different in this respect. This time, our plucky heroine, Lisa (Tara Spencer-Nairn, who you may know from Corner Gas or more likely, commercials for Corner Gas) releases the Djinn, who promptly takes the human form of her lawyer Steven (Michael Trucco, who you may know as Anders from Battlestar Galactica).
Now Lisa blows through all three of her wishes near the beginning, all by accident. (Note to self: remove the word “wish” from everyday vernacular. I’d hate to be responsible for a genie apocalypse.) But her last wish is the one that throws the monkey into the wrench: Lisa wishes she could love Steven/Wishmaster for who he really is. It’s a nice little loophole that the writer found where she becomes the only person that can grant her own wish. The only thing the genie can really do is reveal his Evil Genie-ness to her and hope for the best.
This is where I would have loved a genre-bending twist where the movie just totally eschews the entire franchise and turns into a Terence Malick-style exploration on the true nature of love. And, to its credit, the movie seems to set off on this path with Steven trying to understand how to make someone fall in love with him but then it remembers that it’s a Wishmaster movie so the genie goes and kills a couple of people with wishes.
Here’s a particularly awful scene where the Wishmaster is getting beaten up by a bouncer but he can’t fight back until the bouncer wishes for something. He wishes that the genie would put up a better fight, in case you didn’t want to sit through all those slow-motion punches and crackly audio. I don’t think that’s really a rule established from previous movies nor will it ever come back again.
By the third act, it becomes clear that no one is really sure how to end this movie so there’s a pretty anti-climactic showdown in her bedroom where the Wishmaster just yells at Lisa to love him. (That never works; trust me, pal.) This doesn’t end well for him as he gets stabbed with an angel sword. (You and me both. Women, am I right?)
Way to go out like a whiny baby, Wishmaster! Yikes.
Suppose, instead, that the movie became this tragic love story where the Wishmaster romances Lisa, they begin to fall in love, he starts having doubts about this whole genie apocalypse/random murder thing, she awakens emotions in him that he never knew existed but with his new-found love for living, comes the heartbreaking realization that he must sacrifice his future with Lisa in order to save humanity, so he lowers himself into molten steel while giving a thumbs up. Alright, that last thing was from Terminator 2.
I guess it is hard to come up with a good ending to that premise.