Movie Review: The Possession (2012)

Lionsgate Entertainment
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for mature thematic material involving violence
 and disturbing sequences - a re-rating is on appeal)
Director: Ole Bornedal
Writers: Juliet Snowden, Stiles White
Starring: Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick
Horror | Thriller

The Possession is said to be the based-on-a-true-story horror movie about one family’s struggle with the supernatural. “Clyde” (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a local coach who spends too much time at work, is divorced from “Stephanie” (Kyra Sedgwick), but jumps at any chance to get to spend time with daughters, “Hannah” (Madison Davenport) and “Em” (Natasha Calls).

They are an ordinary family in nearly every way until Em purchases an old wooden box at a yard sale. From there, a once-polite and happy young kid becomes delusional, obsessive, and violent. When Stephanie begins to suspect that her time-burning ex is not looking out for their now-troubled daughter’s best interest, she files for sole custody. But when the improbable of the supernatural begins to work it's way through her stubbornness, the family must put away their problems and work together with a Jewish exorcist (Matisyahu) to stop a great evil.

But what all potential viewers need to keep in mind is the need to free themselves of The Possession, which, at the very least, adds nothing new to the possession genre, but going even lower, brings clichés in a suspense-lacking, weak-as-soup effort that only wished it new how to get under our skin.

The events portrayed herein supposedly took place over the course of 29 days, but it took me 29 minutes to lose interest in everything. All the time I’m waiting for something to make me care, I’m thinking to myself how easy it would be to make a scarier movie than this.

With hit-or-miss tension-building music and some lousy attempts at trying to scare us, the story finally migrates to its second half. But do we care? The answer is still no.

About the only thing that starts to seem interesting is the guessing game of how long we will have to wait for Stephanie to become convinced of what her ex accepted as fact almost immediately—that their daughter is possessed by a Jewish demon called a “dybbuk” that was (up till now) trapped inside a very old box.

Gone-wrong attempts at shock value through excessive screams and evil that is literally crawling inside bodies doesn't keep us from recognizing that Natasha Calls is a charismatic young star in the making. The girl has some potential. And as for Morgan and Sedgwick, there is nothing wrong with either of their performances.

But this is where we have to give the friendly reminder that so many movies supposedly “based on a true story” are often not at all. The real story behind this movie is very interesting indeed, and would have made a great movie had this one followed the owner-to-owner tales that gave life to it, but it doesn't resemble those enough to allow any of the the good stuff to rub off.

This movie is not so much about a box housing a demon as it is about “horrifying little girl” possession theatrics. So we are never really scared or taken with anything until the very end, and that payoff most will see coming. And why am I not surprised?