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The Possession Review. How Scary Was It?

The Possession Review
By: MattInRC

The Possession is nothing more than cheap cliched horror about...you guessed it...demonic possession.


Horror flicks have become so predictable and repetitive lately (with the exception of the disturbing The Human Centipede) that the genre seems completely out of ideas. The Possession doesn't help kick things out of their doldrums, delivering every single plot cliche available, including the cut-to-black screen followed by the single lower-end piano strike.


The movie stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers) and Kyra Segwick (The Closer) as recent divorcees whose youngest daughter Emily (newcomer Natasha Calis) purchases a wooden box with Jewish markings at a yard sale. Soon, Emily becomes obsessed with its contents, remarking to her older sister (Madison Davenport, Over the Hedge), "I don't feel well." This ought to be the signal for 'something's-wrong-as-I'm-being-possessed' but no one pays attention, that is until moths mysteriously invade Emily's room and a hand tries to reach out from her mouth for reasons that are never made clear. For shock value, these scenes are fairly intense, with Morgan and Calis playing it off well. But the truly scary scenes never arrive, as we're forced to watch one build-up scene after another, wondering when the real action will arrive. That doesn't happen till near film's end, when Morgan's character Clyde enlists the help of a rabbai (rapper Matisyahu) to assist with the exorcism.


Director Ole Bornedal doesn't hit you with shock gore, settling instead for faded colors and dreary skies while the dybbuk (a Judaic demon) shows up on Emily's MRI scans, forcing her doctors to do...well...nothing about it. Writers Julier Snowden and Stiles White (Knowing) do a better job of explaining how divorce can rip down young people's lives than telling the possession story itself. That says a lot, but the talented cast tries their best with a script that feels like a failed attempt to bring The Exorcist into the new millennium. Calis steals most scenes in which she appears, but Morgan's low-key but cutting sense of humor always creates the right environment, reminding audiences that he should star in more roles. But nothing saves bad writing, and The Possession's paltry 92-minute runtime feels more like 2 hours, dragging, then shocking, then dragging again.

Horror flicks are not generally my thing unless they break new ground. The Possession offers audiences nothing new, settling instead for bad cliches and tired plot points that ultimately end in the easily-recognizable shocker ending. You're advised to wait for this one to hit Netlfix, or watch The Human Centipede or Saw instead.

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