Fans of the US show Supernatural might be thrilled to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan back in the realm of the, well, supernatural. And joining him is The Closer‘s Kyra Sedgwick who has traded in crime scenes for a more domestic environment. But is this TV super-team enough to make The Possession, another exorcism movie stand out from the bunch?
Clyde (Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Sedgwick) are a newly divorced couple, whose prickly interactions hint at unresolved issues. But Stephanie has a new boyfriend and Clyde’s career is about to take off, which leaves their two daughters in the middle of a pretty dysfunctional family. So far, so predictable.
When Clyde takes their youngest daughter Em (Natasha Calis) to a yard sale she picks out a wooden box with strange carvings on it. Eager to please, Clyde buys it for her. But there’s more to this creepy antique than meets the eye. As Em’s behaviour starts to change Clyde realises that something inside the box is slowly possessing his child. He discovers it is actually a Jewish dybbuk box used to imprison demons. Can he and Stephanie find a way to save their daughter before it’s too late?
Produced by Sam Raimi and based on a true story, this movie had more of a chance for success than most. Relative newcomer Calis deftly handles her Jekyll and Hyde character while Dean Morgan and Sedgwick are adequate enough as anxious parents. But they all stop short of delivering anything really impressive.
Danish director Ole Bornedal pulls off a few good scares including a couple of particularly chilling moments involving the box’s previous owner. But despite using some imaginative visuals, Bornedal overleverages the creepy-little-girl archetype to the point where it loses impact and leans too much on horror conventions.
The overall pacing and structure of the film is sadly predictable. There is too much reliance on melodrama to drive the story as opposed to involving the audience in the supernatural world, which would be fine if the melodrama had a little more depth. The allegorical level of the film is rather clumsily executed and what might have been an engaging narrative layer becomes the less intriguing message divorce is hard, m’kay?
A perfectly enjoyable if predictable exorcism film which would have been elevated by more risk-taking and gore. Not as good as The Last Exorcism but better than The Rite.