The Possession is yet another in the long line of movies trying to emulate or copy the original exorcism masterpiece. In fairness, the film does have a couple creepy moments but they’re easily overshadowed by stilted acting and unintentionally funny scenes.
Genre(s): Drama, Horror, Supernatural
Lionsgate | PG13 – 92 min. – $39.99 | January 15, 2013
Directed by: Ole Bornedal
Writer(s): Juliet Snowden & Stiles White (written by)
Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Natasha Calis, Madison Davenport, Matisyahu
Theatrical Release Date: August 31, 2012
Features: 2 Audio Commentaries, Featurette, Theatrical Trailer, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, English Spanish
Disc Size: 29.0 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 2.25/5
Every year Hollywood likes to release some kind of exorcist movie perhaps believing they have the next The Exorcist box office hit and every year they tend to be flops, although 2005’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose was a solid flick and a modest hit as well. For 2012, The Possession tries to buck the trend and unfortunately, it was a failure at least as a horror film. As a comedy, however, it’s a great success and ripe with unintentional funny moments the Rifftrax crew could mock.
“Based on a True Story” – the death nail of any film – the plot is centered on high school basketball coach Clyde Brenek (JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN) who is recently divorced from wife Stephanie (KYRA SEDGWICK) and now has daughters Em (NATASHA CALIS) and Hannah (MADISON DAVENPORT) for weekends. He’s just purchased a new house in a new development where apparently nobody else has moved in and struggles with the new situation and raising the two girls. One day while attending an estate sale, a decorative wooden box catches Em’s eye and asks her dad to buy it for her.
What they don’t know, when the movie opened, there is something evil within the box and caused incredible injuries to an older woman who, despite getting basically split in half, survives and is in a body cast. Not sure how that happened, but to question such a thing would be pointless, especially with so many other things to pick on. In any case, Clyde buys it for his daughter and when she takes it home, there’s something about it that she’s drawn to and, despite her father unable to find the lock, Em somehow gets it open and that’s when the proverbial crap hits the fan.
Soon enough, Em’s personality begins to change – and moths invade the house – and she becomes defiant with her father as something, or someone, is slowly taking over Em’s body and spirit. After some fighting, and an accusation of child abuse after Em hits herself, Clyde figures out the change in behavior have something to do with the box. After doing some research online, it leads to Jewish exorcisms and he seeks the help of a Rabbi but he wants nothing to do with the case as an exorcism would be very dangerous. However, the Rabbi’s son, Tzadock (MATISYAHU), though Jewish law believes he has the duty to do whatever he can to save the daughter before it’s too late.
Up front, I must admit I’ve never been a fan of supernatural thrillers, so right off the bat The Possession does have that going against it, even so, this movie attempts to emulate The Exorcist and while the atmosphere feels right, the script is still way off. Part of the reason the story doesn’t work is, it basically borrows from what’s been done before but with a topping of unintentional humor thrown in for good measure. For instance, and I’m certain there is a basis in reality to it, but seeing a Jewish exorcism seems like something from one of the Scary Movie spoof movies; it’s over-the-top and not even remotely scary. And that’s one of the biggest issues I had, even with all the atmospheric moods, dark settings and such, this is not in the least bit scary or even thrilling.
When it comes to the casting, keeping the thin script in mind, I can’t fault anyone for the film’s failures. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, though, does continue a decline in quality work following Watchmen and includes stinkers such as Jonah Hex, Texas Killing Fields and direct-to-video chiller, The Resident. I guess Morgan does the best he can with what he’s dealt, but his character is half-baked and one-and-half dimensional (slightly better than most others).
Kyra Sedgwick is forgettable in the wife/mom role and in fact can be annoying however not to be outdone by the new boyfriend played by Grant Show who, for some reason, reminded me of Cary Elwes in Liar Liar; I half expected him to do “the claw” for the kids… He was obviously the tool for the film and goes out like a bitch never to be heard from – or even mentioned – again. On the plus side, the actresses playing the daughters, Natasha Calis (most recently from the failed “The Firm” series) and Madison Davenport, weren’t bad and anytime you have a kid playing possessed, there is a surmountable creepy that factors in.
The Possession was helmed by Danish director Ole Bornedal and although I can understand and appreciate what he tried to do with this supernatural-thriller, and the influences The Exorcist had, I cannot get over how inane the story was not to mention some truly hilarious scenes that really removed any seriousness or credibility the film had left. The script is by Julie Snowden and Stiles White, the pair responsible for the underrated Knowing as well as the horrid Boogeyman.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
The Blu-ray release comes with a matted slip cover.
Audio Commentaries – 1) Director Ole Bornedal, 2) Writers Juliet Snowden & Stiles White: Both tracks are technical though Bornedal’s is low key and quite dry with his quiet tone while the second is a tad more interesting given there are two participants. Snowden and White also go, obviously, into the screenplay aspects.
The Real History of the Dibbuk Box (13:19; HD) – This featurette covers the box at the center of the movie and provides the background on it, featuring interviews with those who have had one and their experiences.
Theatrical Trailer (2:31; HD)
The set also includes a Digital Copy (compatible with iTunes) and an UltraViolet download code.
Previews – Texas Chainsaw 3D, The Last Exorcism, The Haunting in Connecticut
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Lionsgate unleashes The Possession onto Blu-ray presented in its original 2.35 aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. Now, I am a bit torn on this transfer mostly because the video looks at times way overly sharpened. Was this how Bornedal and his DP Dan Laustsen (Silent Hill) shot it or was this done in post? The problem here is that the detail levels are nice but there are many scenes which stand out and looks really strange. Outside of that, there is a fair amount of noise and film grain but it’s not abundant or distracting. The black levels are also well done never revealing any flaws.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
On the aural front, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track (not 7.1 like other Lionsgate releases), sounds pretty good and is mostly effective. The bulk of the movie is dialogue-driven but whenever we get to the possession elements, the lossless track certainly picks up allowing the surrounds to envelope the room. The LFE channel also gets a small workout as well rumbling during key scenes throughout the film, though especially during the finale.
OVERALL – 2.75/5
Overall, The Possession is yet another in the long line of movies trying to emulate or copy the original exorcism masterpiece. In fairness, the film does have a couple creepy moments but they’re easily overshadowed by stilted acting and unintentionally funny scenes. The Blu-ray does have solid video/audio transfers and an OK set of features.