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The Possession (2012)

January 19th, 2013 by unkle lancifer · 3 Comments

The ads for OLE (NIGHTWATCH) BORNEDAL’s THE POSSESSION were so painfully generic that it wasn’t difficult for me to decide it was less worth a two mile walk to the local theater than it was a three block walk to my nearest Red Box five months later. The signature image of a hand clawing its way out of someone’s mouth was so yawn-worthy it easily nullified the SAM RAIMI “presents” credit. As much as I am happy to support horror films while they’re braving the box office trenches, I don’t think I was wrong reading this one as something more appropriate for a home viewing. At the risk of sounding cheap, the spending of $1.20 as opposed to $15.00 dollars undeniably puts me in a more forgiving mood, a mood that is only heightened when watching a flick alongside best pals beer, cats and quilt. This mostly standard movie deserves mostly standard complaints, clichés abound, predictability reigns and why oh why the soggy CGI? Still, I found it entertaining enough and there were a few elements that were genuinely satisfying. To focus on how unoriginal it ends up being is unoriginal in itself, so instead I decided to pick out five things that I enjoyed…

1. Loosely based on a true story, THE POSSESSION tells the tale of a little girl named Em (NATASHA CALIS) who buys an ugly wooden box at a yard sale and gets taken over by a demon that was trapped inside it. Before making her purchase, Em looks inside a window and sees a woman lying on a bed, bandaged head to toe, frantically shaking her head and pleading with her eyes, while her wailing warning of, “No!” is muffled by the glass. This scene is both totally creepy and completely hilarious to me.

2. For a while, it’s difficult to decipher (at least for those within the film) if Em is possessed or just acting up because her parents are getting a divorce. The family estrangement helps to set things off balance and things grow even more off kilter thanks to the clever use of the separate home that Dad has recently moved into. It’s in a neighborhood that is still under construction so it’s a familiar suburban setting, yet one with an alienating, almost ghost town vibe. The underdeveloped area allows for large oppressively blank, pitch-black skies and it’s got a nice falling-off-the-edge-of-the-world feel to it. In addition there are plenty of detached CANDYMAN-like aerial shots, which I dig because I imagine they signify God looking down upon the happenings in total apathy.

3. I really liked the actors in this. JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN as dad Clyde is hyper-sympathetic and who is this MATISYAHU fellow? Apparently he’s known as “The Hasidic Reggae Superstar.” Anyway, I thought he really brought something unique as the Rabbi who the family turns to for help. He’s so unaffected and counter Hollywood that he added an almost seventies vibe. He and MORGAN click well together and it’s always nice to see such relatable folks on screen. KYRA SEDGWICK has her work cut out for not coming off as a joy killing drag and she succeeds well, particularly when she and her ex giggle through home movies representing happier days. The kids are fine too and don’t delve into the obnoxious zone they easily could have. In fact this ensemble could have been trusted to carry the weight of the film a little bit more. For example, there’s a scene where Mom confronts Em in her dark kitchen and we view the kid’s face distorted through well placed glass jars and it’s way more eerily effective than any of the less natural CGI manipulations to come.

4. I love the scene where Clyde searches for his demonically possessed child in the hospital morgue and finds her standing below a glowing red “Exit” sign. She keeps saying, “Daddy you scared me,” but rather than have her repeat it, it’s obviously a recording played in a loop. It’s got a weird hypnotic effect and mostly you just want it to stop as soon as possible. Unfortunately this transpires shortly before things get choppy and suddenly we’re in another room and I don’t understand how.

5. The score! I thought the music in this was effective and consistently interesting. So there; that’s five things that don’t suck about this movie. I guess there is still much left to be desired but hey, let’s hear it for focusing on paternal anguish for a change! It’s sad that THE POSSESSION doesn’t seem confident enough in itself to blaze more of its own trail because when it leans toward its own path it walks taller. I’m also taking off points for never showing the raccoon that invades the kitchen in CGI form or otherwise. See, there is a message for all of us here! Follow your individual strengths and never skimp on the raccoons!

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Tags: General Horror




3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 carolNo Gravatar // Jan 19, 2013 at 11:22 am

    it’s a very dangerous game you play, unk, when you review mediocre to bad movies, because you have a way of making everything sound pretty spectacular to me. especially when you throw phrases in like

    “This scene is both totally creepy and completely hilarious to me,”

    or “He’s so unaffected and counter Hollywood that he added an almost seventies vibe,”

    or “It’s got a weird hypnotic effect and mostly you just want it to stop as soon as possible.”

    good god man, don’t you realize what you’re doing?!?!

    i’m not saying i’m gonna run out and see it in the theater (the closest one to me is an hour away) but i’m probably gonna see it eventually now and it’s all because of you!

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jan 19, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I know I’m a nightmare! It’s a curse! This movie is mostly mediocre for sure but I had to get my 1.20 worth and squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of it I could! Also please consider that I would gladly watch a Movie about Jeffrey Dean Morgan staring at a clock on the wall.

    In my defense, Ebert liked it better than I did! It really could have been good I think but the CGI crap and the blatant Exorcist thievery (there’s even an MRI scene) drag it down.

    I will say that as far as movies about the Jewish “dybbuk” demon go, this one does run rings around “The Unborn”. But yes, please be drinking if you watch it.

  • 3 SlasherChickNo Gravatar // Jan 20, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I wanted to see it already and your review rather intrigued me so I got it last night. There was a lot I liked about it: the way it was shot, the house was beautiful, the box was beautiful, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (I echo your sentiments about the clock, though I would like for him to be in an advanced state of undress at the time), and I like the Rabbi who did the exorcism. I can’t argue with the acting, it was damn good.

    I did not like the Kyra Sedgewick character. She had her bitchface on through most of the film and though I generally like her, I mostly just wanted to falcon punch her. Repeatedly. Her boyfriend also, who in one scene was acting more like her father than her potential lifemate. My son wants to see it so I’ll be watching it again tonight to see if there may have been something I missed.

    Mostly I just want to know what those insects were that they kept tossing at the poor kid.

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