I absolutely LOVE stories about the jinn, or it’s Romanized version, d’jinn, or it’s Anglicized version, genie…pick your poison. Whether it’s Aladdin’s genie or Wishmaster‘s d’jinn, the allure of having your wishes fulfilled is something that speaks to each and every one of us. Who hasn’t wished to be rich? Or beautiful? Or powerful? Or all three? It’s a huge temptation for anyone to be able to side-step hard work altogether and skip directly to the reward! The story of the jinn originated in early pre-Islamic Arabian and later, Islamic mythology and theology. Whenever we think of a genie granting us our greatest desires, we fail to consider the possible negative flip side of getting what you want, hence the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it”. We might not actually WANT what we think we desire if we were to know the implications of it. Wish to be rich? Everyone only wants something from you. Wish for someone to fall in love with you? Love instead becomes an all consuming obsession. Wish to be beautiful? Gaining outer beauty may just mar your inner beauty so that no one wants anything to do with you.
The tale of the monkey’s paw actually addresses the problem of getting what you want, giving the wish fulfillments a bit of a macabre twist! In the classic short story, The Monkey’s Paw, written by W. W. Jacobs and first published in 1902, three wishes are granted to the person with the Monkey’s Paw-but they come at a horrible price! For example, wishing a deceased love one back to life results in their decaying corpse rising from the grave. There have been many variations of the monkey’s paw story but the one that always comes to mind for me is Pet Sematary. In that story, an ancient Micmac burial ground has the power to restore life to the dead which, of course, sets off a string of hellish consequences for a distraught father daring to interfere with fate.
Director Aaron Pagniano’s We Got a Monkey’s Paw, up until recently making the rounds at festivals and available September 18th on the YouTube channel, Alter, is an 8 minute horror/comedy short starring Jacqueline Jandrell (Last Stop) and Zack Ogle (Enemies of Dorothy), who also co-wrote We Got a Monkey’s Paw with Pagniano. Zack (Ogle) and Jakki (Jandrell) are best friends as well as roommates that couldn’t be more opposite of each other! Zack collects haunted and/or cursed items while Jakki enjoys the quiet life-staying home and reading a good book, for instance. However, Zack is now the proud owner of a monkey’s paw and wishes Jakki would become more interested in his unique hobby. Yes, you heard me right. Zack wishes Jakki would become more interested…and that she does, with grave…and hilarious…consequences! The remainder of the short plays out like one would expect; wish making with disastrous results while making wishes to fix the disasters of their wish making!
We Got a Monkey’s Paw is played strictly for laughs while paying tribute to other Monkey’s Paw adaptations. Director Pagniano wisely eschews trying to make his short akin to Ash vs the Evil Dead or other similar horror comedies and completely embraces the pure comedic aspect, presenting the short like a sitcom. In fact, while watching it, I felt a laugh track would’ve given it just the right amount of spice but regardless, We Got a Monkey’s Paw played out wonderfully! If I had to pick one thing that was negative about the short, it’d have to be that occasionally, the music would almost drown out a bit of dialogue but that’s me being extremely picky.
Overall, the multiple award winning short was an absolute pleasure to watch! Ogle and Jandrell’s acting was superb with Jandrell’s hilarious performance being the standout. I’d love to see what director Pagniano could do with a feature length horror comedy, so long as Ogle and Jandrell are both involved! Be sure to watch for We Got a Monkey’s Paw, arriving online via Alter on September 18th!