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The Possession Review

Oozing blandness and spattered with unintentional hilarity, The Possession is an amorphous blob of been-there-done-that genre tropes, even with its limp attempt at uniqueness by putting a Jewish spin on the exorcism thriller. As it turns out, a religious figure dressed in goofy clothing muttering gibberish over a twitching young girl is an equally flaccid horror approach across all religious denominations. If heaps of clichés ranging from the clueless parents to a little girl muttering hateful things in demon tongue weren’t enough, The Possession forgets to even be scary, failing to even provide cheap jump scares let alone moments of extended tension. If a room filled with moths or flicking lights is your idea of chilling cinema then I supposed you could find something to admire amidst all the clutter, but for everyone else, this is strictly bargain-bin quality. Likewise, all of the potentially creepy imagery has been bastardized by the marketing material (et tu, poster?). Even the setting chosen by director Ole Borendal lacks any imagination. Instead of some creepy, dilapidated homestead, he’s chosen to stage the paranormal events at a brand new, immaculate home. Just because the characters in this film are too idiotic to ever turn on a light (a recurring decision that had me yelling at the screen towards the end) does not a haunted house make. The quartet of principle actors who make up the main cast of The Possession include Jeffrey Dean Morgan (wasted here) as the rather clueless divorcée father, Kyra “The Closer” Sedgwick as the bitch-of-a-mother who has to be all “oh I’m so sorry I doubted you, our daughter is actually possessed by the demon Abizu” and their two daughters played by newcomers Natasha Calis and Madison Davenport. Thankfully, these two are quite good, at least saving the film from the oft-seen death sentence that are awful child actors. All of these characters essentially serve as demon fodder, existing to a.) be possessed, b.) be beat up by the possessed, c.) be scared by the possessed or d.) save the possessed. You won't care one iota about the lot of them. As is always the way, our darling little princess becomes possessed after opening an old wooden box she finds at a yard sale (recycling — it never helps anyone). This is no jewellery box, but rather a religious tool known as a Dybbuk box, used to contain a broken spirit. The aforementioned demon Abizu has now latched onto young Em Brenek intent on doing ... something or another. It seems content to eat a lot of pancakes, spit bugs out of its mouth and talk’smack about peoples' loved ones. As Em starts acting bizarre and stoic, so leads us into the Google searches for possession cures (I’m sure Web M.D. can clear that shit right up), wild accusations across the board as to what is going on and the eventual exorcism, which apparently in Jewish cultures looks like Weird Al Yankovic rapping and head-bopping while screeching the demon’s name like he’s tripping balls on ecstasy. As I iterated before, exorcism in film has become an utterly eye-rolling procedure after decades of dilution and overexposure. The sequence in The Possession is particularly laughable. There have certainly been far worse horror efforts this year both on the indie circuit and for main Hollywood releases, but The Possession is easily the most lifeless – content on existing without identity. If you have never seen an exorcism movie before, there are certainly (sadly) worse places you could start. But considering that the dated special effects and sometimes hammy performances from The Exorcist haven’t degraded that classic from still being the greatest of its type, speaks volumes to the complacency of today’s horror industry to churn out the mediocre and falsely brand it as cutting-edge.  


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