Film Review: The Possession recycles trademarks of Exorcist with little success


Hollywood horrors rarely bring anything new to the table. The Possession is, like most modern scary films, an unapologetic rip-off of those that came before it. As far as unapologetic rip-offs go, however, this one does the job pretty well.

Although the majority of PG-13-rated horror flicks are not exactly nightmare-inducing, The Possession does provide some genuine scares. The film stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan of The CW’s “Supernatural” and Kyra Sedgwick of the popular TNT show “The Closer.”

The Possession opens rather violently with a dybbuk, or demon, box beating up an elderly woman. Then the box moves on, of course; the old woman didn’t have the body or soul to get the job done.

Cue the little girl with the “pure” heart – the perfect host – along with plenty of dramatic tension between divorcees and some disgusting moth swarms, and you have The Possession. The innocent host in question starts out as a sensitive vegetarian and transforms into a ravenous, murderous and often hideous creature.

This film is essentially a retold version of The Exorcist except with Jewish mythology instead of Christian (Gawker Media’s blog “io9” coined it as the “Jewish pop reggae version of The Exorcist”) and a pinch of Poltergeist and The Grudge thrown in for good measure.

Also, though the wooden box in question serves as a creepy element in the film – as do its sinister contents – few people are actually afraid of a box.

The script is uninspired and borrows heavily from the successes of previous films dealing with exorcism. The cinematography is equally unimpressive and consists only of mildly frightening special effects, including a few grimy fingers reaching up out of the helpless little girl’s throat. The soundtrack builds suspense when necessary but overall was forgettable and derivative.

Although the movie opens with the added terror of the words, “This film is based on a true story,” there is nothing particularly concrete or real about it. The name chanting and other exorcism techniques are cheesy. Not to mention the whole “big happy family” aspect of the film is a bit too cheerful and cookie cutter to really work in a horror movie, twist ending aside.

Though the acting is decent, the jump scares are exciting and the bug phobic among us will have some trouble stomaching a scene or two, this movie truly defines what it means to be average. To see a good exorcism film, it may be best to watch The Exorcist instead.