The Possession (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner31/08/2012

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 92 mins

Engaging possession horror with strong performances, some genuinely creepy moments and an intriguing twist on the usual genre staples, though the script occasionally stumbles into unintentionally laughable territory.

What's it all about?
Directed by Ole Bornedal, The Possession stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Clyde, who's getting over his recent divorce from Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and trying his best to be a weekend father to his two young daughters, Hannah (Madison Davenport) and Em (Natasha Calis). However, when Em opens a mysterious wooden box that she bought at a yard sale, she soon begins behaving strangely and Clyde comes to believe that she's been possessed by an evil spirit known as a dybbuk.

The Good
Jeffrey Dean Morgan delivers a likeable performance as Clyde, generating strong chemistry with both Sedgwick and his two young co-stars. Natasha Calis is equally good as Em and her transformation from adorable, lively moppet to withdrawn, creepy weirdo is as unsettling as it is well handled; she also gets some genuinely chilling moments, such as slipping into the demon's voice (“She's still hungry”) while in a diner or freaking out when she's separated from the box.

The effects work is excellent (particularly if you are scared of moths) and the script makes the most of its central premise, substituting Judaism for Catholicism to intriguing effect, not least because that allows the time-honoured exorcism sequence to be performed by a Hassidic Rabbi (singer Matisyahu). It also has fun with some of the other expected scenes, such as the college professor (Jay Brazeau) who examines the box and translates its mysterious inscription; rather than play it po-faced and serious, the script allows Brazeau to make jokes and chuckle a lot.

The bad
The main problem with the film is that the dialogue occasionally stumbles into unintentionally laughable territory, most notably when Em urgently tells her father, “Where is my box, daddy? I don't want you touching it. No-one else can play with my box”. Similarly, for all the moments that the film handles well, there is still the occasional misstep, such as a cheesy montage that shows Clyde rapidly boning up on dybbuks via Wikipedia. It's also guilty of not adequately explaining away the fact that no-one realises something is seriously wrong until it's too late.

Worth seeing?
The Possession is an enjoyable, well made possession chiller with strong performances, decent effects and some genuinely creepy moments. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

The Possession (15)
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Content updated: 24/04/2019 11:14

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