The Possession

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Ghost House Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Ole Bornedal

Review Rating: 7

Reportedly based on a true story, a young girl finds a mysterious box at an estate sale and unwittingly releases a Jewish demon on her family.

It’s a rather awkward Horror entry into the field. The film can’t seem to make up it’s mind what it wants to be and do, dark shadow jump scares and demonic possession body contortions notwithstanding. Skirting the edges of many different sub-genres of Horror, The Possession seems to be trying hard to possess it’s own unique niche, and fails hard at it.

So Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Kyra Sedgewick) are recently divorced, with two middle-aged daughters. Clyde just moved into a new house, Stephanie has taken up with another man, and of course daughters Emily (Natasha Callis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport) aren’t happy about any of it. This is about as far as we get, before Clyde gets the brilliant idea to stop at an estate sale, and sure enough, Em finds this box that just boggles her little mind, that she just has to have. Nevermind the strange happenings in the window of the estate house, or the odd-worsening things that begin happening to Em just as soon as she figures out how to open that box. As deaths’ head moths go flying around, an ancient ring is slid onto an adolescent schoolgirls finger, and contortions in both body and voice ensue. Clyde, who happens to be a college basketball coach, takes the box to school to find out where it came from, only to learn that it’s a box intended to house a, wait for it, demon from the Jewish faith, called a Dybbuk. Certainly this could be considered new, and while the good ole Christian demons can get a bit stale, it’s already been done before in The Unborn. We move on. Em is being possessed and lashes out at everything and everyone, making it appear as though her father attacked her and then going bugshit crazy on her mother. Clyde takes it upon himself to visit the Jewish quarter of the neighborhood, to plead with the Rabbis to help his daughter, only to be turned down by the Elder. But the younger first approached Tzadok (Matisyahu) agrees to aid Clyde, culminating in a big exorcism-style showdown at the hospital. As far as whether the exorcism actually worked and what happened to the demon box after that, well, it’s a fairly predictable ending for a Horror flick.

The film makes the claim “Based on a true story”, about what happened to a family over the course of 29 days. Frankly it sounded a lot like Amityville Horror to me when said that way, but this offering is nothing like that. No explanation as to who the old woman was, how or why she was trapped in the demon box, and what Jewish mysticism has to do with it at all. The whole random nature of Emily picking up the box at an estate sale strikes me as a trailing story thread. Special effects are used sparingly, usually to emphasize the possession of Emily herself, and only to good effect in the latter half of the third act. It’s not a terrible possession Horror flick, but there are better ones out there.

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