WARNING: This will contain spoilers
A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit. The spirit has something of penchant for possessing young children and Emily is its latest host. The girl’s father teams up with his ex-wife and a Rabbi to find a way to free Emily from the curse and return the evil spirit from whence it came and so goes the story of The Possession.
OK excuse my language a moment but I have to get this off my chest. It royally pisses me off when horror movies start with the words Based on a true story to get you worked up before the film begins. I have said in previous reviews that horror movies are more effective when you can believe these things could happen to you. It’s one of the reasons why slasher films are more disturbing than ghost films because that is a physical threat. When me and my wife sat down to watch this I saw those words and like I was possessed myself my mouth uttered the word “Bullshit” and the movie hadn’t even begun. Why? Well I knew the story of the Dybbyk box from a documentary I saw a few years ago. It was quite famous for a while becoming its own urban legend because the owners of the box maintained a blog telling people of all the occurrences that were happening around it. How true these blogs are only the author’s know but one thing is for certain; the word Based… gives the makers of movies like this a lot of leeway in the writing while at the same time trying to get you scared by believing this actually happened.
Anyway, let’s get on with it. This movie was a real mixed bag for me. Literally the first half of the entire film just dragged and dragged. The concentration on the family’s problems surrounding the parent’s divorce and the subsequent behaviour of the children made me forget I was watching a horror at times. That being said I have to give credit to Natasha Calis and Jeffrey Dean Morgan playing the daughter and father. They both portrayed a strong bond that actually got me invested in the outcome of the movie and if that was the purpose of the long build up then mission accomplished. Most of the others in this move are really just there to make up the numbers though. Even the mother played by Kyra Sedgwick (who I swear hasn’t aged a day since Born on the Forth of July) seemed like she was filler and that the film could have done without her.
In the 2010s horror movies have more or less mastered the feeling of tension and producing the jump scares that everybody loves. The Possession is no exception and the whole tone of the film is low and brooding throughout. It feels like its hanging over you and that’s a good thing because its supposed to feel like that as that’s what’s happening to Emily regarding the box. I did feel the director pulled out all his art school training for this however in that some of the scenes particularly early on feel very art house such as the fading of voices and the weird camera angles. While this is just for the sake of it at first I really liked the scene in the kitchen where we are looking at Emily’s distorted image through the glass as the possession becomes complete.
In terms of story a lot of this was very predictable. This is not a movie that is going to surprise you. Even in the last scene with the Rabbi driving down the road with the box on the passenger seat I knew there was going to be a crash and the box was going to be thrown out. What I didn’t understand however was that the Rabbi explains that the demon only wants children. Why then did it possess the father in the end? Was it threatened by him or something? I just didn’t like it. Once again we have another earthquake producing exorcism scene; that’s getting very old now. That being said there are some scenes I absolutely adored such as the MRI scene where they see the demon inside her. Another scene that I really liked was when Emily asks for more breakfast and then utters “She’s still hungry.” It was done so quickly and yet eerily that it made the hairs on my neck stand on end.
I would not say I didn’t enjoy this movie. It was enough to stop me from knocking it off and watching something else but by the same token it’s not a movie I would really bother with again.