Ain't It Cool News (
Movie News

Capone finds THE POSSESSION a fairly creepy (if familiar) experience!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

Or THE JEWISH EXORCIST. And yes, the ground was covered quite ridiculously in David Goyer's 2009 film THE UNBORN. But in THE POSSESSION, things are dialed back slightly, with an strong emphasis on a broken family being the centerpiece of the plot. When we meet high school basketball coach Clyde Brenek (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), he and his ex-wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) are already split up, with their two girls, Emily (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport) getting caught in the middle of the less-than-friendly fallout of the marriage.

One day Clyde picks up his kids and takes them to his recently purchased home, which is in desperate need of some decorating, so he takes them to a yard sale, where Emily finds an ornate wooden box, with no visible seals or ways to open it... always a good sign. Not long after its they bring the box home, Emily manages to trip a hidden lock and reveal its creepy contents, which apparently includes an unseen ancient demon that has now been set free and taken up residence in the young girl, causing her to not feel herself and act out aggressively at times.

The demon even manages to make it appear that Clyde is abusing Emily, and all custody he has of the girls is taken away from him. Somewhere in the script for THE POSSESSION (from Juliet Snowden and Stiles Whiteis, KNOWING) a metaphor for the toll divorce takes on children, but that kind of gets lost around the time when the little girl examines her throat in the mirror and fingers come crawling out. Eventually, Emily's problems become so great that all can agree there is something wrong with her that conventional medicine can't take care of. Clyde shows the box to a professor friend who explains that it is a dybbuk, a vessel in Jewish culture believed to be able to trap evil spirits that, when set free, will eventually drain the life out of its human host.

And before long Clyde is trawling Jewish neighborhoods looking for someone to help him save his daughter. The only man who comes forth is Tzadok (played by musician Matisyahu), who knows the ritual to de-possess Emily and put the demon back in the box. Sounds simple, right? Directed by Danish filmmaker Ole Bornedal (NIGHTWATCH), THE POSSESSION actually works in many ways. The overall creep vibe is solid thanks to some stylish, but not overwhelming, visuals. The decision to never lose sight of the family dynamic was a wise one; the more her parents get along and cooperate, the better Emily's prospects seem to get. The scares are parceled out at nice intervals. And young Calis knows how to glare and turn on some truly evil voices on cue.

One of the more bizarre elements of the film is in the editing, or more specifically the transitions from scene to scene. There are abrupt fade-outs that almost indicate the film can't wait to get out of one scene and into the next. At a 90-minute running time, I almost wish the movie hadn't been in such a hurry to get from scene to scene; a mellower approach would have been right in line with the tone of the rest of the film. It wasn't enough to ruin the film for me, but it was mildly distracting. Overall, however, Morgan does nice work as a desperate father who already feels guilty for putting his job before his family and is trying to make up for it by making a desperate attempt to remove this evil from his little girl. If you're desperate for a few genuinely earned supernatural scares (unlike last week's unwatchable THE APPARITION), THE POSSESSION gets the job done.

-- Steve Prokopy
Follow Me On Twitter

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus