If I could choose a certain genre of film that would be my favorite, it would without a doubt be horror. There is nothing like sitting alone in a dark room watching a good horror movie that really comes out of the screen and imprints memories in your mind. To me, such movies include Halloween and The Ring. However, simultaneously, horror also tends to be my least favorite genre, largely due to the fact that so many of them are pumped out yearly that never affect the viewer and are cheaply made just to grab some cash. One of the most recycled kinds of horror movies these days happens to be, sadly, the “exorcism” genre. While The Last Exorcism was a pretty scary horror flick, not many of them are. So, when I typically hear that another exorcism movie is coming out, I usually skip out on it just because, no matter what it is about, I’ve already seen it a thousand times. That being said, when I heard that Sam Raimi (producer of Drag Me To Hell) was in the process of producing a new demon possession movie, and when I saw the first trailer, a little bit of hope sprang up inside. That was four months ago, and now that I’ve seen it, how was it? Well, out of all the movies that have been inspired by The Exorcist over the years, this is, as Roger Ebert stated it, “…one of the better ones.”
The Possession, while not obtaining one of the most creative titles for its genre, is directed by Ole Bornadel, produced by Sam Raimi, and follows the story of Clyde, a man recent struggling with a divorce from his wife of two children, Em and Hannah. Clyde, while spending time with the girls, stops at a yard sale to get appliances for his new house, while his youngest daughter, Em, buys a mysterious wooden box. After a few days, Em’s personality begins to change, which causes Clyde and his ex-wife to come together to find out what exactly is concealed within the box. Although that plot sounds vaguely familiar… well, it is. So how is The Possession different from any other demon possession movie that is pumped out once every two months? Well, the fact that it has some terrific performances, dreary camera work, and some effectively scary moments.
Clyde, although not fully developed due to a lopsided, somewhat below average script, is, thankfully, portrayed by Jeffery Dean Morgan. Morgan, who is known for his role as The Comedian in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, is very good in this role, and is actually the best part of this entire movie. Kyra Sedgwick is Stephanie, Clyde’s ex-wife, and she does an okay job in the film, but by the third act her character becomes annoying to watch on screen. Maddison Davenport plays Hannah, the older sister, and does a good job in the film, and Natasha Calis does a superb job playing Em, the possessed little girl that we see too often in these types of movies. Her performance really captures the essence of what her character goes through in this situation.
As stated before, the script has some issues, whether it be from underdeveloped characters or unintentional humor. The movie does tend to fall back on some major Hollywood clichès, and the plot does take a too familiar turn toward the end. All that being said, the movie does offer some pretty intensely scary moments; (one involving teeth and one involving a CAT-scan). The movie tended to use a technique that would take a very loud scene, such as someone screaming, and immediately cut it, making the scene that much more effective, and it really worked for an advantage in this film. Also, the camera work and direction of this film is gorgeous to look at, with its ominous dark tone and dreary color shading.
One thing about this, and other films of this genre, that I can’t stand is the tagline: “Based on a true story.” If this film is based on a true story, and **[SPOILER ALERT]** the photo of the demon living inside the girl was actually taken by a CAT-scan, I honestly believe that photo would have been heard about on the evening news a long time ago. **[END SPOILER]**
Overall, The Possession doesn’t really offer anything new to the table, but it is still an effective possession movie that has a handful of good performances, sure direction, and legitimately chilling moments.
Run Time: 91 mins
Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving violence and disturbing sequences