The Possession is the latest horror offering from producer Sam Raimi (Drag Me To Hell). A Jewish themed Exorcist, The Possession sees Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) buy his youngest daughter, Em (Natasha Calis), an antique box from a yard sale. When Em begins to act strangely – staring into space, stabbing her father with a fork and eating raw meat from the fridge – Clyde does a bit of internet research and discovers he has bought a dibbuk box hiding an evil spirit. As the dibbuk tries to possess his daughter, Clyde is forced to seek help from local Rabbis.
Set against the backdrop of a fractured family with recently divorced parents, this latest supernatural horror is a haven for cliche. Based on a true story about the sale of a real life dibbuk box on Ebay (the original sale description is available to view from the movie’s official website) The Possession should feel more believable than it does.
There are some spine tingling moments and a piano soundtrack as the film opens helps to build the necessary suspense and atmosphere. The voice of the dibbuk also amps up the chills early on, but verges on silly when springing from Em as the film progresses.
Despite a nice opener, later scenes seem a tad overwrought – as Em repeatedly stabs her pancakes, shoveling them in her mouth at lightening speed while swaying her legs purposefully under the table, the soundtrack booms and it all feels a little too much. Em becomes such a stereotype of the tormented child – pallid complexion, blackening hair, contorted stance – you’ll wonder why it takes her parents so long to realise their daughter’s possessed. And while there are some good CGI moments, the decision to make this spirit corporeal goes for shocks in favour of long lasting chills.
“Despite a nice opener, later scenes seem a tad overwrought”
The script and visuals stir in so many ‘scary’ ingredients from moths to human teeth that they become tiring rather than frightening. Teamed with a good dusting of ‘it’s behind you moments’ there’s little in The Possession that we haven’t seen before.
But’s it’s not all bad, the plot ticks along at a nice pace, even if real scares are few and far between, and there’s some nice characterisation. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the struggling ex-husband convincingly and the addition of hopeful Tzadok (Matisyahu) in the film’s last act makes for some nice dialogue – ‘I hate hospitals – people die here’ he remarks.
While there’s plenty in The Possession to keep its audience watching, it offers few surprises or take-home chills and this run-of-the-mill exorcism story is likely to be forgotten by all but horror enthusiasts.
VERDICT: ✭ ✭ ✩ ✩ ✩
For more information, see the official website