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Unraveling the Mystique: Djinn as the Unique Boogeyman in Arab World’s Horror Storytelling

Boogeyman the horror genre, known for its polarizing effect, either draws enthusiasts or prompts vehement avoidance. City Times recently interviewed Daniella Tully, an accomplished author and film producer specializing in horror fiction, to unravel the intricacies of this captivating genre.

A Career Steeped in Storytelling

Tully boasts a rich career in storytelling, initially venturing into production and scriptwriting at a TV station in her native Germany. In 2009, she made her way to the UAE, contributing significantly to Image Nation Abu Dhabi, where she played a vital role in developing the country’s film industry. Her portfolio includes noteworthy projects like the critically acclaimed Fair Game, box-office hits Contagion and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and the Oscar-winning adaptation The Help.

Transition to Storytelling Beyond Film

In recent years, Tully shifted her focus from film production to explore storytelling through various forms. This transition led to the creation of her debut novel, Hotel on Shadow Lake, a gothic family saga published in 12 countries and translated into five languages. She has since authored two more novels and is currently working on her memoir. Tully also shares her expertise by teaching writing and filmmaking at Middlesex University.

Fascination with Horror’s Universality: Boogeyman 

When asked about her fascination with horror, Tully emphasizes its universality and ability to transcend cultures. Unlike genres such as romance or comedy, which can be culturally specific, horror possesses a primal quality that resonates across cultures. Tully, influenced by the dark fairytales of her German background, appreciates the genre’s ability to tap into primal fears.

Analyzing Fairytales and Cautionary Tales

Analyzing fairytales, Tully highlights their historical role as cautionary tales, conveying moral lessons to children and adults. These tales addressed dangers like fire, darkness, and trusting strangers, serving as vivid warnings against undesirable behaviors.

Evolution of the Horror Genre

Tully acknowledges the evolution of the horror genre, emphasizing its symbolic and layered nature. Stephen King, a master of the genre, stands out for his ability to infuse deeper meanings and symbolism into his works. Tully draws parallels between King and Charles Dickens, emphasizing their rich prose and the emotional depth they bring to their stories.

Enduring Appeal of Stephen King: Boogeyman 

The enduring appeal of Stephen King’s work, spanning five decades, is attributed to his storytelling prowess. Tully appreciates the “blue-collar melancholia” present in King’s narratives, reflecting his own upbringing in poverty. The protagonists in King’s stories often face hardships but ultimately triumph, conveying a message of resilience and kindness prevailing over challenging circumstances.

The Purging Quality of Horror

Tully also explores the purging quality of horror, emphasizing its role in allowing individuals to confront and release their fears. Unlike sadistic elements, horror enables readers or viewers to identify with the pursued or victim, offering a cathartic and cleansing experience.

Cultural Nuances of Horror in the Arab Region

Having co-produced the first Emirati horror film Djinn, Tully delves into the cultural nuances of horror in the Arab region. The film introduced global audiences to the concept of djinn, offering a fresh and intriguing Boogeyman. Djinn, shapeshifters with the ability to appear in various forms, presented a unique challenge and opportunity for visual storytelling.

Continued Support for Horror in the UAE

While Djinn may not have achieved masterpiece status, Tully remains hopeful that it laid the groundwork for more horror films in the UAE and the broader Arab region. She continues to support this vision through her work in teaching writing and filmmaking to university students.

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