ReviewWriter: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Drag Me To Hell'
Similar to "The Cabin In The Woods", "The Possession" is more known for its association with Sam Raimi, who is one the film's producers, rather than for its association with the film's director, Ole Bornedal. In fact, the name Ole Bornedal hardly comes up in Hollywood, since his most high-profile American film is "Nightwatch" back in 1997, which stars Ewan McGregor, Patricia Arquette, Josh Brolin and Nick Nolte. However, aside from the shared obscurity between directors and the dipped toes of "The Cabin In The Woods" and "The Possession" in the horror genre, there is not much else in common between the two. In fact, Bornedal's film only serves as a reminder that there is a difference between production and directorial duties.
The story begins with the introduction of the mysterious Dybbuk (spelt Dibbuk here)box and the evil that it contains, before leading us to newly divorced couple Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie Brenek (Kyra Sedgwick). Their bitter divorce forces their two daughters, Hannah (Madison Davenport) and Em Brenek (Natasha Calis), to move between both parents, staying with their mother on weekdays and their father on weekends. One weekend, Em finds an old box with a Hebrew inscription engraved on it at a yard sale, which is the box shown at the beginning, and soon becomes obsessed with opening it. It is when the Dibbuk box is opened that Em begins to exhibit bizarre and violent behaviour. Now Clyde and Stephanie have to discover what the supernatural force behind the box is, what it wants, and how to keep it from destroying Em.
The horrific tale of the evils contained within the Dybbuk box set against the backdrop of a family going through a divorce should be the perfect setting for a horror film; instead the only horrific thing about "The Possession" is that your eyeballs may fall out from too much eye rolling. Considering the presence of big leads such as Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Segwick, one would expect more from Bornedal's film, but sadly, Bornedal is not one to take full advantage of what he has been given.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan of "Supernatural" once again reprises his role as the father forced into dealing with the supernatural, minus the tough-as-nails attitude, which, arguably, would have been a blessing. Instead, JDM is relegated to being the typical amicable but unfit father figure who is uncomfortable with his ex-wife's new date, feeds his younger daughter pizza despite her allergies, and misses his eldest daughter's dance performance due to work. The same goes for Kyra Sedgwick. Her bossy attitude and Southern accent that she was known for in "The Closer" are gone, and in her place is a helpless woman who is more a prop than a character. Newcomer Natasha Calis who plays Em is an unsympathetic young girl, despite the cheap attempts to influence viewers otherwise - she sheds tears whenever she does something abnormal - due to her mostly vacant stare and obnoxious attitude when she snaps out of it.
As the more demented elements of the plot are introduced, such as the hand crawling out from the mouth and the moths/locusts infestation, aside from becoming clearer to us that this is a Raimi film, we also see that it is all smoke and mirrors. Although Bornedal stated that he was drawn to the script for "The Possession" for it being an allegory for divorce than as a true horror film, there are no underlying morals here. It is just a plain and simple cautionary tale about the perils of opening boxes that you should not, like Pandora except that the tale of Pandora did not require the budget of millions to tell. Em's one slip is enough to damn her to a horrific ordeal in which Calis is forced to adopt a vacant stare, stuff her mouth of food and letting the bugs invade her mouth in the grand tradition of other Raimi leads, such as Bruce Campbell and Alison Lohman, but what bugs us more (pardon the pun), is why her father and mother switch between calling her Em, Emily and Emma.
Even the film's tagline itself is an inconsistency. With a tagline like "Fear the demon that does not fear God", the film is implied to have religious overtones, yet, there is only a single mention of God, which, to be honest, is not even about God, but rather, about how far a father would go to save his child. To make things worse, there is a last minute twist at the ending which feels contrived, as if it was appended just to fit the horror billing, since the whole film was not really that terrifying, due to the chaotic choreography. Bornedal is one of those who are fond of using sounds to ramp up the terror levels, except that when you cut to a quiet scene after a loud one, it just like we just got slapped in the face.
On the whole, there is plenty of atmosphere in "The Possession", but the leads deserve better than the clunky narrative, pacing and choreography. Raimi is better off directing his own horror films for Ghost House Pictures if he wants them.
"The Possession" is also showing in 2D in Malaysia if you feel like paying for a horror movie.Cinema Online, 28 August 2012