Movie Review: “The Possession” – Repossessed plot, performances, scares, etc.

Written by Jesse Gelinas September 13, 2012

FOR SALE: Demon in a box. Hardly used!

I cannot wrap my head around this Hollywood trend. Every few years another horror subgenre comes along and bangs out a couple dozen carbon copies of the same movie. We’ve had the standard slasher features, the crummy vampire flicks, that “Saw” movie and then those six other movies that tried to be that “Saw” movie. Nowadays, just about every other month we’re treated to another haunted child movie. Haunted houses are so passé apparently. “The Possession” falls , nay, plummets from this particular tree, and hits every branch on the way down.

**WARNING: Possible spoilers below trailer**

Time for another Jewish folklore lesson…

The movie parents Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Kyra Sedgewick), and their daughter Em (Natasha Calis). Yes, the parents are going through tough times, in fact we meet them mid-divorce. Yes, they also have another child, (Em’s sister Hannah), and yes, she serves no real role in the film and I think we hear her name twice. At a yard sale Em becomes enamoured with this little box that is just screaming “DON’T OPEN ME!” Clyde, father of the year that he is, buys it for her. Soon after strange events begin—Just forget it! The little girl touches something she shouldn’t, and the associated spirit/ghost/demon comes out, her father pays the price for it (fair’s fair after all), a Rabbi is consulted, Hebrew fairytales are exchanged; the whole nine yards.

We’ve seen this movie a thousand times before, the absolute closest being 2007’s “The Unborn” (an older, but in no way superior film). Haunted/possessed kids are so cliché it’s ridiculous. Yes, maybe it was creepy ten years ago when people were just getting over “The Exorcist”.  It just doesn’t seem to work anymore. All these movies can ever muster is a few jump scares and maybe one genuinely creepy moment (always ruined by being put IN the damn trailer).

My face through most of this movie

Less is not really more

The effects are kind of decent, and the jump scares aren’t quite as frequent as some lesser entries in this genre. The lack of genuine creepiness and fright brings the movie’s potential to a screeching halt. Morgan and Sedgewick do manage to bring a touch of class to this flick, and the girl playing Em is more tolerable than most child actors. They all do the best with the material they’re given, but honestly it doesn’t really help. The movie has so many failings that I just can’t overlook enough of them for it to be bearable. The ending was so forced that it was seriously grating.

The plot just kind of lumbers along as if the filmmaker thought going through the motions was enough. It’s cliché after cliché after cliché. And the parents… oh God, the parents are so goddamn stupid! House infested with moths suddenly? “Must be after our leftovers.” Daughter attacks a schoolmate? Authorities get involved and suggests she lose the box?  “Meh.”  Just go ask your local Hasidic community for advice on what to do about her special lady friend she keeps in her chest.

“Get out of her, you BITCH!”

“Based on a true story…”

I will now spit whenever I hear these words uttered or see them on screen before a trailer, especially a horror trailer. Supposedly a dybbuk box was sold on eBay and it led to someone thinking it would make a good story. It’s not unheard of. The last flick based on a classified ad (“Safety Not Guaranteed”) turned out pretty well. Why not this movie? It’s simple really. When the writers were purchasing their story off eBay they also decided to shop for a cliché central character, rehashed scares, and a whole set of plot points to hit. If there was any justice in Hollywood they’d be paying royalties to about twenty other filmmakers.

 My Rating: 3/10


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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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