THE POSSESSION – The Review
Despite being based on a true story, THE POSSESSION lacks any real scares.
After his divorce from Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick), Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is trying to make a new home to share with his daughters. While picking up dishes at a local garage sale, his youngest Em (Natasha Calis) becomes fascinated with an old wooden box. Buying it for his little girl, Clyde was completely unaware of the horrors contained inside… A demon spirit. As Em’s behavior begins to change, the secrets of the box begin to unfold, and the race begins to save her soul.
Being a fan of horror, I really wanted to like this film. I tend to love a good possession film. This one, however, really lacked in a couple of areas. Mainly writing and timing. The actors are the best part of this film.
To start with, the writers didn’t really develop the characters, other than a bit with Clyde and Em. The character of Stephanie was very bland. I couldn’t tell if they wanted me to like her or resent her a bit. This isn’t a stab at Kyra Sedgwick’s acting, because I had no real problems there. (The acting will be discussed further down). Either way, I didn’t really care one way or another about the character. Em was concentrated on in the sense that she was an active vegetarian or vegan who wanted her parents to get back together, but they really could have spent more time on her. The same goes for Clyde. You could tell that he was a loving dad who wanted to make his daughters happy, but was also preoccupied with his career. The sense that I got was that they wanted to make him seem like he was putting his career first. Instead, I felt like the love of his daughters was always at least equal to his job, and that they failed a bit at giving him a bad streak. This wasn’t the type of movie where we should feel confused about the character roles. Sure, this is based on a true story… but it’s embellished enough to the point where they should have developing the characters into specific roles in the story.
Let’s talk pacing for a sec. This movie was beyond slow. I get that they wanted a real feeling, unraveling what supposedly happened over 29 days, but, since this story is already embellished, it should have moved faster. There were large lulls where something small or insignificant happened, and to build hype they put in a large “BOMBPT” to try to build suspense. (Yes, that is Melissa vernacular for the loud musical noise that they used). I mean, a good portion of this movie had very little going on. I get that they are trying to make it seem real, but they also could have spent more time on the actual possession, and focused a bit less on the boring steps leading up to it. The sound effects trying to build suspense were almost comical. Em just shoved pancakes into her mouth… “BOMBPT”… and now the girls are going back to their mothers. This ties in with character development. Maybe I would have cared more when the small things were going on with Em if they would have taken the focus off of the divorced parents and developed her character more. Perhaps I would have been more concerned if there weren’t so many drawn out scenes where nothing was going on. As a viewer, I need to stay in the moment. If I am checking my watch, I am no longer concerned with anything onscreen.
That ties in directly with timing. The audience shouldn’t be checking their cell phones for the time, or laughing when it is clear that the film is trying to build suspense. As a fan of the horror genre, I get that sometimes the worst horror films are the best horror films. This, however, does not even fall into that category. This film had my attention in the beginning. It kept my attention 1/3rd of the way in. Then, they lost me. If they cut the 92 minutes (Which is not long at all for a horror film) down by a 30 minutes, they would be in much better shape. What really gets me though, and leads me to give the film the benefit of the doubt, is that THE POSSESSION was originally supposed to have an R rating. I truly believe that they film would be much better if they wouldn’t have recut it to appease the MPAA and gain a PG-13 rating. I understand that by gaining the PG-13 rating they expanded their audience base, but they also cheapened the movie. I am really anxious to see the previous version. I guarantee it is a better film.
Sidenote: I could go into the actual story that this is based on, but this film is really embelleshed. If you are curious about the tale of the dibbuk box it is very easy to find online.
That being said, I have always enjoyed Jeffrey Dean Morgan as an actor. He plays a wonderfully concerned father, and has a strong presence on-screen. Natasha Calis has great chemistry with Morgan. Her role is not an easy one to portray, and I am eager to see what is next for her. In a way, she reminds me of a young Anna Paquin. Matisyahu was the most surprising to me. His role of Tzadok was inspired. He was both young and sentimental, but still carried the traditions of his faith heavily on his shoulders. I would love to see him spread his wings and try on a variety of characters.
As much as I have adored the past few releases from Lionsgate, I would wait for the Blu-Ray on this one.
OVERALL RATING: 2 out of 5 stars