Demonically hindered children abound in ‘The Possession’, the latest mutilated turkey to hit the big screen. The problem I had with ‘The Possession’ is the impression it left me with; the two writers, Juliet Snowdon and Stiles White, having a difference of opinion with Danish director Ole Bornedal, sincerely in terms of artistic vision.
Clyde and Emma are two warring parents coming off of a messy divorce, which they fear has destroyed the worlds of their two young daughters. Clyde has a lot on his plate, he has a thirteen year old daughter both mad at him for his short comings, but acting as if nothing’s up for the sake of her younger, emotionally venerable sister Emma. Along with trying to juggle his parental responsibilities and grieving on a divorce, Clyde tries his best to maintain a level head and a stable household for his children, during weekend visitation when they come to stay with him.
One weekend, Clyde takes his daughters to a yard sale, his youngest picking herself out an antique wooden box. Naturally, the box is haunted, it gets opened and bad things begin to happen. You know the story.
‘The Possession’ is a major contender for “best unintentional horror comedy of the decade”. If you can make peace with this idea before the first act ends, then you’ll have a lot of fun with this production.
As you may have seen from the trailers, Sam Raimi has attached his name to the project. When studios market a movie by name dropping one of the movie’s producers, it’s usually a cheap tactic utilised to capitalise on their investment. For a horror movie, ‘The Possession’ is quite a risk, filmed on a bloated budget of $17.5 million, and released during a time it will have to contend with big hitters such as ‘Lawless’ and ‘Total Recall’, two films that have gained a lot of hype. To give the movie some credit, there was a definite Raimi-esque feel to the action scenes, and in ‘The Possession’, nothing is left to the imagination. Do you want to know what a woman having a stroke looks like? You got it.
The story itself, is built around the scare scenes. The characters are one dimensional and the back story rubs off as melodramatic, because family interaction is conveyed with zero subtlety. Supernatural’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays a wayward father, presumably being divorced by his Wife as punishment for being so successfully career driven. Yes, Basketball coaching takes that much from a man’s life, that he is a shit husband and a careless father. This becomes harder to swallow as Jeffrey Morgan gives a solid performance as a highly likeable human being, gaining my support as a solid protagonist. He had my support from the start. So it makes no sense that he would miss his daughter’s dance recital s and ignore his wife’s needs, like he apparently does. It’s a complete contradiction of character. Another cast member who gained my utmost respect was Madison Davenpot, who plays eldest child Hannah. A fine performance of a thirteen year old girl devastated by her parents divorce, yet keeps it together for her kid sister’s sake. It’s a shame the writer’s didn’t expand on the sisters’ relationship during young Emma’s gradual possession. Unfortunately, Hannah doesn’t appear to notice there’s something a miss with little sis, until it’s too late.
It sounds bad? Well, for all it’s flaws and failed attempts at being a scary movie, I wouldn’t consider it a waste of time. The visuals are crude and over the top, but very evocative. Breaking bones and twisted bodies, routine possessions and creepy crawlies may leave a few people squirming in their seats, but most of you will likely be chuckling under you breath as those around you slowly come to the realisation that they have strapped themselves in for a ninety minute [unintentional] satire on the paint by numbers ghost story. Bottom line is that it’s been falsely advertised as a serious ghost story, inspired by a supposedly true story, which in itself is terrifying. Do a little digging on the internet about the very real dibbuk box and the guy who decided to sell his on e-bay. His claims of spooky goings on being verified by several subsequent buyers who have gone on to own the box after him, all experiencing similar misfortunes and selling the box on, sometimes after having the box for just a few days. It just goes to show there was a good movie in here somewhere, it just kind of got lost somewhere amidst the poorly written dialogue (“it wasn’t just a fight, it was violent”) and the predicable, repackaged scares.
One final thing I must touch on before I sign off, is the fact that the two young starlets often find themselves in scenes where inappropriate dress wear seems to be essential. They’re in pyjamas and dressing gowns more often than not, to the point where I questioned relevance. Why does every scene have to take place in the bathroom, at night in the bedroom or when hospital gowns are a necessity? No accusations on my behalf, but it would be interesting to see how many more of you out there picked up on it? Please, let me know.
To summarize, if you’re looking for a scary movie, you best hold on for “Sinister”, which is set for an October release and, judging by the trailers, intends on scaring up a major success at the box office. However, if you like your horror movies tongue in cheek, you may not feel too duped, should you wish to make “The Possession” your choice, during that next visit to the cinema.
Ry’s rating – 2.5 out of 5