Today: April 15, 2024

The Possession DVD

If The Possession, and countless films over the years, is anything to go by then Hollywood has more than its fair share of people suffering from paedophobia, better known as a fear of children.

If The Possession, and countless films over the
years, is anything to go by then Hollywood has more than its fair share of
people suffering from paedophobia, better known as a fear of children.

Rosmary’s Baby, The Omen and of course The Exorcist are all classic horror
films that deal with this affliction of menacing kids. It’s the same old story, cute kid
starts out all sweetness and smiles before descending into bile spewing,
profanity hurling little balls of spoilt rage. The next thing you know you’re calling in the
therapists, then the doctors and of course, finally the exorcist.

Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is a college
basketball coach who is divorced from his wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick). At
weekends he spends his time with his two daughters, eldest Hannah (Madison Davenport) and youngest Em (Natasha Calis). Visiting a yard sale one day, Em takes
a liking to an ornate box which Clyde promptly buys her. But moving into Clyde’s new home seems
to put the strain on Em and she’s soon acting out; you know, puking moths,
making things move with her mind and stabbing her father with a fork. While the rest of the family blame
Clyde, he suspects a greater power at work and seeks out the help of Rabbi
Tzadok (Matisyahu).

The based on a
‘true story’ should probably be taken with a huge shovel of salt when it comes
to The Possession. The fleeting
documentary on the DVD certainly tells a far less terrifying story. No demon hands in mouths but rather
chilly feelings and e-bay disputes.

What The
Possesion does well is throw some impressive visuals mixed with a highlight
reel of every possession set piece that has gone before. That’s not to say they aren’t done
well. The infestation of Clyde’s
house by sinister looking moths might make the skin crawl, if you have an
aversion to winged bugs. Once Em
has developed into full on Omen mode she manages to make her pseudo
stepfather’s teeth fall out in the film’s closest moment to gore. But it’s never scary, never has you
awaiting a jump and never asks any questions. So much so that Clyde seems to make the leap from acting out
young sprog to ‘my daughter is possessed’ without much evidence.

Perhaps The
Possession’s biggest problem is the daunting and ever present shadow hanging
over it that is William Friedkin’s
The Exorcist. Every scene feels
lifted from that movie to the point of pseudo remake, albeit a Jewish rather
than Catholic one. So we have the
new house, the separated parents, the obvious psychological and then medical
reasons for the innocent little girl acting out. And all the while you want Captain Howdy to pop-up and tell
dear old dad that his mother sucks…you know the rest. Even the climactic exorcist of The Possession feels
pedestrian compared to hellfire and levitating beds, not to mention there isn’t
a ‘power of Christ compels you’ uttered once.

Jeffery Dean
Morgan, aka Javier Bardem’s American
clone, is on solid form but never asked to do much with the role other than
look concerned. Kyra Sedgwick, aka
Mrs. Kevin Bacon, does a good job of
being the stereotypical mum of divorce; you know the type, rolling her eyes
while flirting with her ex-husband.
Natasha Calis, as the young demon child, certainly fills the apple-pie
cute mixed with menacing evil when it’s needed of her. If there is a stand-out performance it
comes from Jewish rapper Matisyahu.
His Tzadok has a certain cool collective about him that means when all
hell almost breaks loose he is the one character able to think rationally.

Too formulaic and
never a patch on the films it’s trying to emulate, The Possession is however a
passable supernatural thriller that, while failing to scare, does at least tick
all the demonic possession boxes.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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