Saturday, 13 April 2013

HFA Review No. 2 - The Possession

A review I did for Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello, all you lost souls who have unfortunately found yourself locked in the confines of the Asylum! The powers that be have dragged me kicking and screaming from my room and appointed me the daunting task of being their resident horror film reviewer. My name is Michael, and when I’m not writing on this page you can find me at my demented film blog, Left Field Films!

This week the film I’m reviewing is “The Possession” (2012), directed by Ole Bornedal. The film was produced by none other than “Evil Dead” creators, Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert.

Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a college basketball coach, has recently divorced from his wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick). They have two children, the youngest being Em (Natasha Calis), and Hannah (Madison Davenport). Clyde gets the children over the weekends and takes them to his new house which is in the middle of a redevelopment site where the rest of the houses are still being built, so the area has no other residents.

When taking the children back home, he stops by a house to look at their garage sale. Em gets attracted to a peculiar box with strange carvings on it and no visible way for it to be opened. Clyde buys it for her and after failing to open it for himself, comes to the conclusion that the box wasn’t made to be opened.

At night while Em is trying to sleep, she hears a voice from the box asking for it to be opened. She opens the box with relative ease and finds inside the box various old jars and trinkets which she begins to play around with.

The next day Em complains of not feeling herself, and everyone comes to the conclusion that she has been affected by her parents divorce. Over time she starts acting even more strangely and becoming more isolated and unsociable. Clyde notices that all she seems to want to talk about is the box, always wondering if the box is OK.

There are various incidences which happen throughout the film that I don’t want to spoil for you, but eventually people notice that the box seems to be to be the root of all her psychological problems. When separated from the box, Em becomes extremely violent.

Clyde decides to take the box to a professor at the college, who tells  him that what he has is called a Jewish “Dybbuk” box, which is usually used to hold a demon or spirit.

Clyde takes the “Dybbuk” box to a Jewish community where the Rabbi’s investigate the box, identifying the demon in question as “Abizu”, that is known as the “taker of children”. A Jew named Tzadok agrees to come along with Clyde and participate in a ritual to force the demon back into the box before it eventually kills Em.

I have tried to give you as much of the story as I can without giving away any major surprises, I hate to spoil films for people who haven’s seen them yet!

I thought the film was OK I suppose. I like Jeffrey Dean Morgan in many things that he does and he was pretty decent here too. Kyra Sedgwick was also good as the distraught mother and showed a good range of emotion but Natasha Calis as “Em”, obviously had the whole film riding on her back and she played a more than satisfactory portrayal of a child possessed.

What let’s the film down is some bad CGI, and a standard, predictable Hollywood layout for a film that had a good bit of potential. The story is relatively original, though the scares are pretty much stolen from some better films, primarily “The Exorcist”. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have some tricks up it’s sleeve, some parts did catch me off guard.

The film is apparently based on a “true” story. As far as I know the only true thing about it was a passing remark on an American news channel about a haunted box on sale from eBay.
I personally thought the film was mediocre, but I can see people out there who would like the film. As I said, there is some decent acting and some of the scares are OK, and it did pass a couple of hours easily enough. Unfortunately, when placed beside other more superior films on the subject of possession, this film falls short of the mark.

I’ll have to give this film 2 needles out of 5!

Thanks for reading the review, and please avoid the escaped inmates while leaving the building!

Michael Skilling.

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