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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Possession

The Possession
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 92 minutes
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Davenport, Natasha Calis
Directed By: Ole Bornedal
Rating: 2.5 out of 10
An antique box tries to take over the body and soul of a young girl.

I was looking forward to this movie because I read a lot of paranormal activity books. In my readings, I have come across a few stories about the Dibbuk/Dybbuk box (which this movie is based on.) I will save you the entire back story but the readings are far more interesting than this movie ever was. If you want to save yourself the hour and a half, then just go to www.dibbukbox.com and read the story there. Trust me, it is far more compelling. The Possession is the story of a young girl named Em. After purchasing an antique box at a yard sale, Em starts to fall prey to the box’s malicious spirit trapped within. It is up to Em’s family to find a way to stop the curse before it is too late.

At first glance, The Possession seems like a spooky look into the world of Jewish belief on evil spirits. Unfortunately this is just another run of the mill exorcism movie. The film starts out and we are introduced to the antique box as its malevolence is enacted on an elderly woman. The opening scene will tell you two things. The first, is that the box is malicious and can cause much harm to people who get in its way. The second thing it tells us is that this film is made for a very younger crowd (which is fine, but hard to pull off with the horror genre.) The film doesn’t really start until Em notices the antique box at a garage sale and makes her dad buy it. From there, the film is a REALLY slow build up as the box tries to take over Em’s body. Sure there is the odd creepy moment where insects swarm and unexplained things move under Em’s skin, but not enough to sate any horror lover. There is just way too much time spent on Em’s parents and their struggling relationship. The antique box’s powers are also very unbalanced, and they seem to pick on the fringe characters the most for some reason. If a minor character only marginally interferes with the box’s plans, then they can expect the box (or a possessed Em) to cause strokes, break bones, rot away teeth, hemorrhage blood, and even force suicide. If you want the box outright destroyed, then prepare yourself for such menacing things as thrown coffee mugs, slight winds, thrown books, and things jumping out at you from the dark. So we are to believe the box has survived for a hundred years with no survival skills? I normally let these types of things go but because the film is so boring, it is hard not to notice that the box is pretty stupid. Even the box itself made me laugh. It would open on its own accord and start to say things in a foreign tongue and all I could think of was a Parkay margarine container saying “Butter” every time this happened. (I am aware that last comment makes me sound old.)

The acting in this is decent enough, but once again I found my mind wandering due to the films lack of frights. Instead of enjoying their performances I started trying to find lookalikes for each actor. Em is played by Natasha Calis and she has that innocent look down for an exorcism film. She doesn’t detract from the film and does better than most child actors would have. I dubbed her, Mira Sorvino with Anna Paquin’s teeth. Em’s father was played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and I thought he was the best part of the film. He plays a very believable and caring father, and is a likeable enough guy to follow. I dubbed him, North American Javier Bardem. The other characters are all passable if not memorable. Em’s sister is played by Madison Davenport and I dubbed her, Lindsay Lohan as a teenager. Lastly was Em’s mom played by Kyra Sedgwick and I dubbed her, the Scarecrow from Batman Begins (I jest)

As the film rolls along it falls into all the pratfalls that plague most exorcism films. Most notably, it has all been seen before. This film had all the unoriginal exorcism staples. It focuses on a young girl; the evil spirit gets progressively worse, there are strangely spoken dialects, insects, the white nightgown, and then an attempted exorcism where all hell breaks loose. While all of these unoriginal scares are happening, the film seems not to have a shred of realism to it. As seen in the trailer, Em stabs her father’s hand violently with a fork, and yet he kind of just brushes it off as kids being kids. If my kid stabbed me with anything, I have seen too many movies not to have them looked at by a professional. (He also never favors the hand or rocks a bandage for the stab wound.) From there, the film also shows you that when you need something from a hospital, it is there for the taking. You can kidnap people there, walk around in any area you would like, take part in MRI tests, and even visit the morgue (where there are dozens of bodies lying around for no reason.) All of these things are apparently at your disposal from your local hospital. As the film and the box come to a close, one wonders was this film even trying to scare the audience? In conclusion, this film has the odd moment but not enough to make it remotely worth your time. It relies too heavily on recycled material in the genre, and even the Jewish religious angle is not enough to save the film.

I am unfamiliar with any of director Ole Bornedal’s previous work, and yes smartasses, this even includes his movie called, The Masturbator. This film seemed very novice in its execution though. The slow story line is in no way offset by the scare factor. There is just too much time spent on character development and not enough time on building tension. The film even comes across as comical at times which I am sure wasn’t the intent. Overall, this film will be quickly forgotten and filed under the title, what could have been.

I cannot recommend this film and I am not sure what possessed them to make it.

T Factor + If you haven’t seen many exorcism movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like your horror to be bloody and graphic then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism. 

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