With Sam Raimi, a prominent and visionary figure in the horror genre, attached as producer (and ‘presenter’), The Possession caught my attention early into its marketing campaign. It’s introductory trailer also slightly impressed, even though the basic story appeared to lack originality. But does the final product conjure up enough scares to make you want to part with your hard earned money?
When young Emily spots a peculiar looking box at a local yard sale, she’s instantly attached. Her father Clyde (Jeffery Dean Morgan) buys it for her, with no reason to think it’s just an antique. But the reality is much more terrifying: inside the box lives a malicious spirit, which possesses her after she opens the unique item. can Clyde and his ex wife, the mother of Emily, uncover the truth about this mysterious item before it takes over their daughters life forever?
The trailer made sure the viewer was aware this is based on a true story, and to an extent, it is. The idea for the film was spawned from the story of a similar box which was auctioned on eBay, and the bad luck that followed the new owner. It’s an intriguing tale, and you can read it in full here, but you’re on this wonderful site to find out how the film version of said story holds up. Surprisingly, the answer is ‘rather well’.
This is predominantly due to its stronger-than-it-deserves lead in the form of Jeffery Dean Morgan. This isn’t his first rodeo in the supernatural genre: in 2005, he had an important role as the protagonist’s father in the hit TV series Supernatural. Again, he’s playing a father here, but to the younger character of Emily, played fantastically by newcomer Natasha Calis. At only 13 years of age, she shines as the tormented youngster. Apart from these two, the remaining performances are forgettable, especially Kyra Sedgwood as Emily’s mother. Fortunately, Morgan is more than able enough to make their scenes together watchable due to his charismatic screen presence. Finally, the last noteworthy character appears at the beginning of the third act and in the short space of time he’s around, is instrumental in the way the story plays out. I won’t give too much away, but in terms of ‘unique’ characters, this particular one takes home the trophy.
Unfortunately, the same positive comments can’t be said about the editing. I’m no pro, but the methods employed here to make the transition from one scene to the next are awfully amateurish – three quarters of the time, a basic ‘fade to black, fade in’ technique is utilized. Once or twice is forgivable, but it gets to a point that any tension built is completely undone by the laziness of the editor. The musical score is simplistic in its approach too, but more often than not, this is a positive. But when the score can be heard, it’s a generic piano key bash that accompanies the fade to black, and is simply used to signal the end of one scene and the beginning of the next.
Narratively, the film treads familiar ground and all its main plot points/character flaws can be found in many other similar films: the recently divorced father with an unforgiving wife, a possessed child, an exorcism and so on. The scares (bar one) come to nothing too, as the promotional trailer includes all the juicy sequences. Nonetheless, it’s satisfying to see them in context, and the finale echoes the same atmosphere created in the video game series F.E.A.R. It’s just a shame that the movie that preceded it couldn’t maintain a similar tone.
Anchored by two strong leads but stalled by a familiar story arc and ineffective scares, The Possession won’t top any ‘Best Of’ lists. But as throwaway entertainment to pass the time, it certainly ticks all the boxes: even the cursed Jewish ones.