January 3, 2013

Filthy Review - 'The Possession'

The Possession (2012)

Review by Jude Felton

PG-13 horror is a strange old beast, it really is. I don’t have anything against genre films with this rating, in fact there have been many excellent examples over the years; Poltergeist and Insidious to name but too. More often than not though, horror films that receive this rating are studio affairs in which the aim is to get bums on seats, and PG-13 rated movies open the doors to the young teen crowd who will throw down their parent’s cash. What grinds my gears is when the film, such is the case with The Possession, where it was either planned as an R rated movie or received an R rating and was then edited down to get the lighter rating. It is an intriguing subject though whichever way you want to look at it.

On to The Possession though, which as mentioned is a PG-13, and I will say now that you should not get dissuaded at all by the rating; this film does deliver the goods in the chills department. It is a little light on the claret, aside from one nasty piece of dentistry, of which is pretty nasty. Instead, I suggest focusing more on the fact that this is a Ghost House Production, which means Sam Raimi and Robert Tappert were on board as producers. And let’s face it, Raimi is still the man. The Possession also happens to be directed by Ole Bornedal, he of both the 1994 and 1997 Nightwatch films and more recently The Substitute.

The plot of The Possession focuses on Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his two daughters, Emily and Hannah. They get to spend weekends with Clyde after his divorce from Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick), and he is not averse to spoiling them. On one such weekend Clyde takes his daughters to a garage sale, which just so happens to be at the house from the opening scene (which features some mad breakdancing skills by the way), and it is here that Emily finds, and becomes obsessed with, a strange wooden box.

Having bought the wooden box, Emily goes about trying to open it, even though it is quite apparent that it is not intended to be opened. Of course, the shit then hits the fan as strange events happen and something seems to be taking over the young girl.

On first glance The Possession did seem to be just another run-of-the-mill girl in peril from supernatural forces type movie, and to a degree it is. This time though with a Jewish twist to proceedings, just to make things a little different. However, The Possession is actually a very entertaining movie, thanks mainly to a convincing performance from Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Natasha Calis, as Emily. Actually, all of the cast are pretty much on the money, although Kyra Sedgwick might well try the patience of even the most tolerant viewer.

Backing up the mainly solid cast is a nicely creepy story that pushes the limits of a PG-13. It’s atmospheric and a few scenes will be sure to send chills down your spine. If I wanted to find fault with the film it would be that the editing in places is incredibly clunky, as if the film had jumped forward a scene, and also in the opening scene there is one part that you can tell was edited to avoid an R rating. You will know it when you see it. Rating issues aside though I had a good time with The Possession, it wasn’t especially original and there were moments when I did question certain characters actions, as well as the screenwriter’s.

As a mainstream, teen-friendly horror flick though it was good fun. It won’t offer up too much new, and it does have its flaws, but it is well made, delivers where it needs to and doesn’t outstay its welcome. Lionsgate have given the film a good quality release on Blu-ray, with both the audio and visuals delivering. Included on the Blu-ray release are two audio commentaries, a featurette on the Dibbuk Box, which was incidentally the film’s original title, and the prerequisite trailer.

The Possession isn’t spectacular, but it is a very solid film that I enjoyed watching. Apparently it is based on a true story, so you can read into that what you will, but if you are a fan of the TV show A Haunting, you will probably enjoy the Hell out of this.

The Possession is released on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital and On Demand on January 15th by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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