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The Possession

September 7, 2012

I first saw The Exorcist when I was about 14 years old one late night while watching AMC. As an avid horror fan constantly looking to terrify myself, I was petrified at what I was seeing. I nearly sharted myself in fear the first time I watched Linda Blair’s Regan crawl down a flight of stairs in a reversed crab walk. After that I was exposed to The Omen, followed by the massive amounts of exorcism films that were made throughout the years and I learned quickly, you don’t mess with Beelzebub and his crew. It’s been 30 plus years since The Exorcist shocked and terrified audiences, but no film of its kind has been able to make the same impact. Thirty plus years and trite rip offs like The Possession are still being made and released, and on Labor Day weekend of all weekends!

Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is in the troughs of moving on just three months shy of a divorce. Clyde struggles to balance work as a coach and also make time for his two teenage daughters whom he shares custody with his wife Stephanie (Kara Sedgwick). Clyde’s favorite daughter, Emily (Natasha Calis), finds a box at a yard sale and is immediately enticed taking the box home with her. But of course, strange things begin to happen and soon she slowly becomes possessed by what’s inside and zzzzZZZZZzzzz… The rest of the movie plays out like every exorcism movie that’s ever been released.

The major difference between The Possession and other exorcism films is that instead of calling upon Christianity for help, it uses Hasidic Judaism. Clyde begins to realize that the inscriptions on the box that his daughter is obsessed with is in Hebrew, leading him to the underground world of Jewish Exorcism where it’s Yahweh or no way. I give kudos to the The Possession’s major difference in that area because, hey diversity, right?

Now aside from that bit of individuality, The Possession is like watching an outline for exorcism films. Nothing strays from the already prepared list and all the scares happen when the music starts to crescendo and the camera angles get tighter and closer. The Possession is so typical that it’s just boring, leaving nothing intriguing or impressive about it. The characters are your run of the mill, one-dimensional stock characters. Clyde’s lack of connection with his oldest daughter, Hannah, is typical because she’s a teenager and what father gets along with his teenage daughter? If you let Hollywood tell it, none. But of course Emily, who has yet to reach puberty, and therefore has not gained the insight that her father is an absent minded putz, is still daddy’s little girl.

The decision to make her the possessed child is merely an attempt to make her transformation that much more heartbreaking because why would Clyde’s little girl be turning on him? Also the character Stephanie is just as bland and ignorant as Clyde. There are never moments between Stephanie and her daughters, making you wonder what she was experiencing with Emily when she was home with her. Moreover, Hannah is such an unnecessary character that I think she was only included into the script just to be an extra pair of hands to hold Emily down during her exorcism.

Not only does The Possession play out like a made for TV movie but it also looks like one with highly unnatural lighting that makes the entire film look like a movie due to air on TNT. There’s no room for a genuine scare because it’s expected and fulfilled that something scary will happen, since the lights are on in the entire house except where the camera is taking the audience. If we see someone sitting in a dark room then better believe the scene’s scary or creepy moment will take place there. However, you’re safe when a room is unnaturally lit making it almost hospital-like in its glow, so if you scare easily then let your guard down in these scenes.

Also the idea of the demon is so poorly constructed that I couldn’t help but laugh. The beauty of the fear that rises from previous exorcism films is not being able to see the film’s antagonist. Instead a room filled with flies or objects moving on their own indicate the presence of something sinister until it takes over its body of choice and shows its evil deeds through them. The Possession uses moths instead, I guess because using flies is so passé and for Christians, and for some reason The Possession thinks it’s a great idea to make the demon a seeable presence. In one scene, Emily is being given an MRI. Stephanie waits on the other side of the glass with Hannah and the doctor as the images of the scan slowly show up on monitor. The images become consistently clearer until dun dun dun, we see the face of the demon in the scan as he is tucked snugly by Emily’s heart with his hand making its way through her throat. What?? Since when did being possessed mean a demon was growing inside of you and that the supernatural can be seen in a CAT scan?

The Possession is the type of film that doesn’t stand out in any way. It’s bad but it’s not terrible; it’s just one of those below average films that just doesn’t amount to anything, except to see Matisyahu in a movie. I was shocked when at the end of the film the theater I was in broke out in scattered applause. I loudly questioned “why?” but then looked around and found my answer. The gracious hands belonged to a group of teenagers who looked as if they had never heard of The Exorcist. If you’ve seen more than one exorcism film then The Possession is sure to leave a stale taste in your mouth, however, if you have somehow strayed away from films within the genre, then you may find yourself impressed and a little scared by what takes place.

AVOID IT. Maybe ten years from now if excorsim films become obsolete and forgetten this may impress viewers, but for now just watch the classics.

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