Did you guys ever see Nightwatch? Not the original, of course! Nobody watches foreign movies! I meant the American version by the director who did the original, Ole Bornedal, starring Ewan McGregor and Nick Nolte? That movie was awesome! Granted, I thought it was awesome in 1997 and even committed it to a VHS tape, but I don’t think I’ve seen it since then. I know this has nothing to do with The Possession, well at least not directly, but I just found out that The Possession was directed by none other than Ole Bornedal! Remember? I was just talking about that guy and how he directed Nightwatch! Have you guys seen that movie? Not the original, of course! Nobody watches foreign movies! I meant the American–NOOOOOOOOOO! Sorry, I got caught in a wolf-loop there. Anyways, I had heard positive things about The Possession, or at least good things for a theatrically released horror movie. It’s weird, you’d think that theatrically released horror movies would be the best of the genre, rather than having to add that caveat. Are there other genres that you can say that about? “Well, it was a pretty good romantic comedy for a theatrical release, not nearly as good as those independent ones that go straight to video.” I think because I recently watched Sinister and had mixed feelings about a theatrically released horror movie, I thought maybe I’d have better luck with this one. Unfortunately, this one didn’t fare much better, but it also didn’t do as many things that disappointed me so much. Did that make sense? Probably not, shut up, just keep reading.
You’d HAVE to be possessed to think this makes a good outfit, I don’t care how old you are.
When a woman tries to destroy a creepy looking box, she ends up smashing her whole body all over the place. Sell the box, lady! That box is no good! She took my advice and sells the box at a yard sale where it is purchased by Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) for his daughter Em (Natasha Calis). Unfortunately, the creep box starts taking a strange toll on Em, making her entire family confused! It seems as though Em is “possessed”, and…wait, is that where the name of the movie came from?! I’ve been wondering that this whole time! Since Clyde is the divorced dad, Em’s mom (Kyra Sedgwick) assumes that Clyde is just a huge dickhead and that’s why Em has been acting strangely. Clyde tries to get rid of the box but when he does, Em acts like he is abusing her and she goes back to stay with her mom. While Clyde isn’t allowed near his daughter, he uses the resources at the school where he coaches basketball to get some information. Apparently the box was built to contain a Jewish demon, which leads Clyde to seek help from the cool dude hip-hop rabbi Tzadok (Matisyahu). There needs to be some sort of exorcism type of thing done so Tzadok helps them out. Whatever, there’s the exorcism, but the demon goes into Clyde for a little bit, but then the demon crawls out of Clyde and back into the box. Nothing brings a family together more than being involved in an exorcism so this heals the family’s problems. While Tzadok is driving away from the whole thing with the cursed demon box, he gets hit by a truck. This implies that the box will find its way into someone else’s hands and the whole thing will start over again! Noooooo!!!!!
I know, right? I want to know what he’s hiding under that beard too!
As I mentioned earlier, even though this movie didn’t do as many things poorly as Sinister did, it also didn’t have as many strengths. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was pretty good as the father who is only slightly out of touch with his daughters and Natasha Calis was pretty good as a possessed little girl as well. In addition to the cast, there was also some pretty interesting cinematography, in particular a scene in an abandoned parking lot that was lit by streetlights and a scene in which Em goes to get an MRI. Also, a few scenes involving Em’s voice being manipulated by whatever was possessing her were kind of cool and some of the effects used on the “possessed” Em. Don’t worry though, there were still some bad things in it. The overall generic feel of the whole thing and the “based on true events” gimmick didn’t really make this movie stand out from any of the countless movies made with similar subjects. Even though I enjoyed the look of the MRI sequence, the bits involving showing the x-rays absolutely crushed any sort of momentum the film had built. We see x-ray images of Em’s torso, and what looks like distortion gets clearer as it’s revealed to be the demon that’s crawling around inside Em. Despite Em’s family clearly seeing a FUCKING DEMON INSIDE OF HER, none of the doctors really think it’s worth pointing out. I mean seriously, it rivaled the scene in Sinister where Baghuul looks up from the laptop screen in how awful the scene played out and how much it killed the steam it was building. Another strange point being that when you actually see the demon, not just in an x-ray, it does look kind of creepy. It also seems like filmmakers are trying to incorporate mythology from other religions into their films instead of just relying on Christianity, but in The Possession it felt more arbitrary, like all it took was one producer saying, “Can’t we do that but make it Jews?” Maybe it was just the incorporation of Matisyahu, an established musician who incorporates traditional Jewish themes into his material, but some of those aspects felt kind of forced. It’s interesting because I watched a documentary ont he Blu-ray afterwards about the “true” story of the demon box, and it seems relatively unique to Judaism, so obviously the filmmakers did something wrong if it felt that forced. I was also glad to quickly learn that the “true” story of the box is some guy bought it at a yard sale and he gave it to his mom, who immediately had a stroke, so he sold the box, and the guy who bought it thought weird things were happening to him. I’d much rather that the truth that way than have to go on Wikipedia later to be disappointed. I should also mention that the opening sequence of the woman trying to destroy the box is really silly and juxtaposed the rest of the film. The movie was made by Ghost House Studios, which is run by Sam Raimi, so that over-the-top horror stuff was expected, but it just seems really odd in retrospect with nothing else like that happening in the movie. The Possession has its moments, but since some of those moments are bad ones, it’s not really anything you need to check out unless you really dig possession movies.
Wolfman Moon Scale