Reviewed by Andy
Films involving demonic possession occupy a crowded subgenre in horror, and one that is unsurprisingly still heavily influenced by The Exorcist. The Possession aims to stand out by eschewing the usual Christian-centric themes in favour of Jewish mythology; does it forge its own identity or is it destined to cook pork in Hull?
Winchester senior Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays recent divorcee Clyde, moving house and trying to maintain a relationship with daughters Em and Hannah (Natasha Calis and Madison Davenport). So when Em starts behaving weirdly shortly after buying an elaborately carved large box at a yard sale, the emotional pressures of the divorce seem a natural cause. But really, 9 Hellraisers on, when has there been a film where a wooden object with strange markings hasn’t had something untoward going on?
The Possession is inspired by the story of the Dybbuk box that notoriously appeared on eBay in 2003 and brought illness and strange phenomena to each subsequent owner, and handles the elements of Judaism even-handedly. It doesn’t look down on either the viewer or the religion with over-stereotyping, and the result is refreshing and maintains interest. A solid picture of a strained family engages, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan is as watchable as ever, though Grant Show as “new man on the scene” Brett has something of a tendency towards cliché.
Coming from Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures, who also produced Drag Me To Hell in 2009, there is an obvious visual influence as well as the unfortunate tendency to put all the best visual moments in the trailer but director Ole Bornedal (Nightwatch – the one in the morgue not the Russian fantasy) adds his stamp too with some lovely overhead shots.
Unfortunately, the film at time falls foul of some of the tropes of the genre – it takes a long time for the characters to accept anything is really wrong and unless I was a Winchester I would have been long gone from Clyde’s new house before anyone else seemingly considers it!
It’s not quite up to the quality of Sinister – and suffered a little by being shown a day later – but it’s well worth checking out for a new angle and well told, interesting story. Now, where’s Sam and Dean when you need them – they’ll have this sorted out quicker than you can belt out some classic rock… ***1/2