A mute boy finds a dusty leather bound book with a pentagram on the cover that says it can fill his heart’s greatest desire – surely nothing could go wrong.
Set in the 80s (maybe just to include some 80s style synth in the score), Dylan (Ezra Dewey) has just moved into a small apartment with his radio DJ father now that his mother is no longer around. Even though the dialogue is signed, it is still exposition heavy. They unpack and try to settle down before dad Michael (Rob Brownstein) has to head out for his night shift broadcasting.
This gives Dylan enough time to continue exploring his new digs, returning to the cupboard where he spied the foreboding Book of Shadows. Gathering the bits needed to fulfil this dark ritual, he lights a candle and signs the text from the book into the mirror – unleashing the Djinn. And so all the young boy needs to do now for his wish to be granted, is survive an hour in this cramped three room flat with the satanic demon he just invoked.
The Djinn is a shapeshifter, and so takes on different forms whilst pursuing the boy from room to room, though the most scary would have to be its natural ghoulish appearance which, used sparingly, is pretty unsettling.
Setting the film in this small space is clever in as much as we learn the layout quickly, knowing that if the monster is in the kitchen, there is only one way past it. However it does stifle variety and the cat and mouse chase can’t help but become repetitive, kept alive with the constant jolt of jump scares.
Simple to the point of feeling like one protracted scene, this house invasion horror gets a little stuck for ideas and leaves itself with nowhere to go.
Depending on the poster you see for this film, it could look like an action revenge movie or a Danish oddball comedy – fortunately Riders of Justice lands perfectly in the middle.
Director Anders Thomas Jenson has made a number of films with this same band of collaborators, sometimes absurd or grotesque, but always darkly funny. In this case a vengeance story, complete with fist fights and shootouts, is dropped into the laps of a bunch of damaged nerds, whilst their anti-hero leader Markus is probably the most damaged of all.
Markus (Mads Mikkelson) is serving in the military when his wife and daughter are involved in a train crash. Losing his wife in the accident, he returns home to be with his traumatised child when he is visited by another passenger from the train who insists that it was no accident, that he has tracked down the people responsible: a notorious gang known as the Riders of Justice.
This other passenger Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) had offered his own seat to Markus’ wife before the crash and so appears to take responsibility. A statistician with a dark past himself, Otto keeps very strange company. There’s Emmanthaler (Nicolas Bro), the obese and aggressive surveillance pro; and Lennart (Lars Brygmann) the smug and socially inept superhacker. This group of weirdos become an unlikely gang themselves as they plot their revenge against the culprits, holed up in Markus’s gargantuan barn turned intel base. To remain incognito from Markus’ daughter (Andrea Heick Gadeberg), who worries about her father’s propensity for violence, they pretend to be a group of grief counsellors, and somehow, become more like a family.
A ridiculous premise that is played with the right balance of wackiness and heart. Dressed up as an action film, filled with oddities, but played straight down the line – Riders for Justice has its cake and blows it up/ is a symphony of nonsense.