Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies Review
Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies is effectively the same movie as the original Wishmaster, albeit with new faces (besides Andrew Divoff, who reprises his role as the Djinn and Nathaniel Demerest) and a new writer/director in Jack Sholder. Sholder’s no stranger to slasher sequels – he wrote and directed A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge – and here he manages to capture the overall spirit and style of the original quite well, repeating a lot of the same themes while infusing a new religious aspect into the plot.
That adherence to the structure and tone of the original film would seem problematic, but Wishmaster 2 copies all of the best parts. That includes bringing Divoff back for his hammy performances, who actually gets to maintain his human persona for a large chunk of the film. Nathaniel Demerest goes to jail after an art heist involving Morgana (Holly Fields) goes bad, but that’s actually the Djinn’s plan; in human form, he can gather a multitude of souls in prison because it’s full of people wishing for things. Sholder recognizes that, for the most part, Divoff is the most interesting character in the Wishmaster series because of his sneering smile, comedic presence, and incredibly deep growl; Wishmaster 2 effectively uses that at every turn, opting to showcase a couple of creative death sequences involving a man squeezing himself through prison bars or a lawyer literally fucking himself. It’s all over the top, and it’s just as imaginative as its predecessor.
Fields is quite good in her role as Morgana, although most of her scenes are wasted on the film’s more overt religious themes. Wishmaster 2 chooses to focus on human redemption by giving Morgana a chance to repent for her past mistakes – including killing a security guard in that art heist – but ultimately these moments lack strength because Sholder refrains from giving the audience much of a backstory for her character. It’s unclear whether she’s done these heists before, and the film’s final moments where Morgana needs to become pure before she can cast her final wish to vanquish the Djinn seem shoehorned in, an attempt to change things up from the first Wishmaster‘s ending.
The formulaic approach to this sequel also creates one other dilemma: Wishmaster 2 can’t maintain the crazy dynamics of the first film, and Sholder eliminates a lot of the gore and carnage in favor of storytelling. While there’s still heavy use of practical effects, these elements are too dispersed throughout the film; chaos doesn’t occur until the final casino scene, and it’s a little too long to wait.
Still, Wishmaster 2 is a surprisingly effective followup to the original tale and one of the few sequels that manages to conjure up the same atmosphere. While there are obvious changes and tweaks to the film’s universe, Sholder crafts a compelling storyline with a particularly attractive female protagonist and adds just enough differences – religion being the most apparent – to differentiate this from Wishmaster while using the same formula.