Director: Ole Bornedal
Screenplay: Juliet Snowden, Stiles White
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Davenport, Natasha Calis
Running Time: 92 minutes
Release Date: 21 January 2013
The last couple of years have seen a boom in possession and exorcism films, with a sliding scale in quality, of which Lionsgate’s release of The Possession falls somewhere in the middle.
When Clyde (Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Sedgwick) get divorced, their daughters, Em (Calis) and Hannah (Davenport) have to split spending their time between their parents. Clyde moves into a new build house and stops at a yard sale to pick up some plates and the girls poke around for more interesting items. Em finds an old wooden box, covered in carved writing and seemingly sealed. Alone in her room, she manages to find a way to open it and investigates the items that have been locked inside – unaware that she has released a malevolent demon who will take over her body and consume her from within.
Clyde begins to feel uneasy about Em’s attachment to the box, with his daughter turning violent, and throws it away, only for her to find it again. It’s only then that he realises that Em’s very life and soul are at stake and enlists a Jewish exorcist to assist in saving her.
The issue with The Possession is that you’ve seen everything on offer before – it’s like a greatest hits collection of other exorcism movies. There are some nice touches here and there – especially surrounding the demon inside Em and how it shows itself to the camera and characters – and the special effects are nicely managed. The true star is Calis, who manages to appear both innocent and pure evil in equal measure – dependent on what the scene requires.The biggest problems are that the film fails to actually scare you at any point and the soundtrack is just bizarre with a real lack of tension throughout. There are some genuinely creepy moments, but they are too few and far between and some, such as Clyde searching for his daughter in the dark with only the light from his phone, are just wasted. Dean Morgan fails to convey the necessary anguish you would expect from a father in this position, but that’s down to casting rather than anything else. The Possession shouldn’t be avoided at all costs and it does have some moments of merit, just don’t go in expecting anything new.
“An excellent cast are completely wasted in this by-the-numbers multiplex filler. From start to finish, the entire affair is so insufferably on-rails that your brain may just switch off involuntarily, resulting in the strange sensation that you’ve been possessed, yourself, as you emerge from the darkened auditorium unable to remember just about anything regarding the film you just watched.”
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