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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. Ole Bornedal

Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield

Based on a True Story and produced by horror master Sam Raimi, THE POSSESSION was one of the most hyped films at this years FrightFest 2012. Having now watched the film it is clear, don’t believe the hype.

Based upon the story that someone bought a Dibbuk box on eBay for $209 back in 2004 (I think I’d remember a huge news article on a possessed girl who was exorcised in a hospital) for which the following events occurred:

"At the time when I bought the cabinet, I owned a small furniture refinishing business. I took the cabinet to my store, and put it in my basement workshop where I intended to refinish it and give it as a gift to my Mother. I didn't think anything more about it. I opened my shop for the day and went to run some errands leaving the young woman who did sales for me in charge. After about a half-hour, I got a call on my cell phone. The call was from my salesperson. She was absolutely hysterical and screaming that someone was in my workshop breaking glass and swearing. Furthermore, the intruder had locked the iron security gates and the emergency exit and she couldn't get out. As I told her to call the police, my cell phone battery went dead. I hit speeds of 100 mph getting back to the shop. When I arrived, I found the gates locked. I went inside and found my employee on the floor in a corner of my office sobbing hysterically. I ran to the basement and went downstairs. At the bottom of the stairs, I was hit by an overpowering unmistakable odor (sic) of cat urine (there had never been any animals kept or found in my shop). The lights didn't work. As I investigated, I found that the reason the lights didn't work also explained the sounds of glass breaking. All of the light bulbs in the basement were broken. All nine incandescent bulbs had been broken in their sockets, and 10 four-foot fluorescent tubes were lying shattered on the floor. I did not find an intruder, however. I should also add that there was only one entrance to the basement. It would have been impossible for anyone to leave without meeting me head-on. I went back up to speak with my salesperson, but she had left. She never returned to work (after having been with me for two years). She refuses to discuss the incident to this day. I never thought of relating the events of that day to anything having to do with the cabinet."

Now let’s clear something up. None of the above happens in the film. Even a scene where all the lights go out, they return back on when the ‘spirit’ is vanquished. Come on, it’s not a spoiler, it’s generic Hollywood horror, what else did you expect would happen. This is not SINISTER.

And as you just read, the word generic is the only way to sum up this lacklustre effort. It’s hard to say what’s wrong with THE POSSESSION as Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick all give terrific performances showcasing the shear fear of what is happening to them. The plot, the daughter of a divorced family, buys a Dibbuk box from a car boot where previous travesty has left a woman paralysed after hearing voices from the box. After which events she opens the box and slowly gets possessed transforming from the sweet innocent child we see at the start to a violent, sheltered girl we see at the end.

All of horror’s ABC’s of how to make a horror film are present, a horde of locust, a typically jumpy score and the huge bone snapping possession that manages to put a few faces behind hands with the sound effects, but all this is not enough to make THE POSSESSION a good horror film. In a period where we have THE CONJURING, INSIDIOUS and even Joe Dante’s child horror THE HOLE this just does not stand out and at some places merely bores until the next jump out your sleep moment. There are some genuinely creepy scenes all played well by child actress Natasha Calis but the script does go crazy in some parts including an unintentional raise of chuckles when she gets stuck on repeat with her voice slowly repeating itself “I’m sorry Daddy”.

Another downfall to the movie was Clyde’s (Morgan) quick belief of possession, taking a box to a teacher who tells you it’s a spirit catcher and then leaving with the quest to exorcise his daughter is just another yawn in a movie that places too generic to the genre that it fails to bring any rememberable scenes and even know as I write this I struggle to recall what we saw.

As I said earlier in the review, it’s impossible to see where it all went wrong as nothing was ‘bad’ about the film, just generic in a genre pool that has had to imitate THE EXORCIST ever since. This film may be produced by Sam Raimi but there's nothing evil about this dead effort.

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