“The Possession,” written by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White, directed by Ole Bornedal, 92 minutes, rated PG-13.
Since 1973, Hollywood and outlying straight-to-video companies have been putting out the same story of demonic possession over and over again with only a few exceptions. They can’t seem to step out of the shadows of “The Exorcist,” and “The Possession” is certainly not an exception.
On the mend from a divorce, Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a basketball coach and father of two, brings his daughters to stay with him at his new home. A mysterious unopenable box draws the attention of the youngest daughter, Em (Natasha Calis), at a yard sale where Clyde is picking up some dishes. The box whispers, luring its victims in, and of course, it is inevitably and inexplicably opened by 11-year-old Em.
The artifact is a Dybbuk box containing a captured evil spirit, and when it’s opened, Em becomes violent to those around her, eats like a teenager, and stares people down. A lot. Clearly, Em is possessed, and it’s up to Hebrew rapper Matisyahu to exorcise the demon. No joke.
The twist here is that the demon is rooted in the Jewish faith, and not Catholicism. It may be a different religion, but it’s the same formula we’ve seen countless times.
While “The Possession” tried to build some tension, leading to scares that never amount to much, I had time to think long and hard about the genre, asking my self questions like:
- Why are only young girls possessed by demons?
- Why are the titles for these movies so generic?
- How old do you think Jeffrey Dean Morgan is? 43? 44?
- And, mostly, why do studios feel the need to say these stories are based on true events? Does anyone actually believe it? I really hope not.
“The Possession” has some weak jumps, some strange editing techniques with unusual and excessive fading to black, and some really terrible acting from Kyra Sedgwick. What it doesn’t have is any originality.
Why movies about possession continue to make money is beyond me. But as long as people keep going to see them, studios will make them. So stop seeing them.