MikeyB's Movie Night: The Possession (2012)

The Possession (2012) - Directed by: Ole Bornedal
Writer: Mikey B
Editor: Pajan

In 1973 a new type of horror film was released that terrified audiences around the worldTheater owners were reporting fainting, vomiting, and even some patrons fleeing their seats in terror. Christian Evangelist Billy Graham even made the claim the the actual Devil lived in the images of the film. The particular movie in mention was of course The Exorcist. Directed by William Friedkin and adapted from William Peter Blatty's novel of the same name, it was a terrifying vision of a mother whose child is possessed by a demon and her attempts to free her daughter from its torment. This film was a major success at both the box office and with criticsOver the years the film has spawned three sequels, countless imitators, and started an entire horror sub-genre about possessed children. Tonights film, The Possession, also deals with a small girl who becomes possessed and the lengths at which her family goes to help her, but features a subtle twist to distance itself from others: Instead of the usual Catholic dogma and beliefs the focus is instead on Judaism.

The story centers on recently divorced father of two, Clyde. He is a full time high school basketball coach who is trying to juggle the demanding hours of his job while spending time with his two daughters: Em, who is in grade school, and Hannah who is on the verge of high school. Clyde has just bought a new house and after picking his girls up to spend the weekend with himThey decide to stop at a garage sale to pick up a few things for the new place, Em buys a strange looking wooden box and later that night opens it to find various trinkets stored inside. As time progresses she becomes intensely obsessed that no one other than her touch it or go near it and becomes increasingly distant towards everyone. After Clyde decides to throw it out she runs away from home to find it. Upon her return she starts acting like an entirely different person, leaving her father to desperately try and help his little girl.

With fantastic writing and pacing, The Possession is one of the rare type of horror film that lets you really get to know and care for all the characters before any of the mayhem starts, and Anton Sanko’s score is one of the best to be heard from the genre in years. The film takes a much more creepy and unnerving approach to its scares and never resorts to cheap "jump" tactics. Jeffery Dean Morgan (The Comedian in Watchmen) gives one of the best performances of his career as Clyde and you truly believe him as a father that may not have always been there for his family,but will die trying to save them. The supporting cast also deliver extremely convincing performances with Kyra Sedgwick as the girl’s mother also at the top of her game. The real question, however, is, how does it compare to a classic like The Exorcist? Well, it's closebut The Possession falters in one area: The actual exorcism. When it finally happens it feels rushed and the Jewish version of the belief and practice is sadly never explained. The filmmakers also, rather disappointingly, rely too much on computer generated effects that really cheapen the impact. Those are my only complaints of the film though, but they seem much larger when you consider all that happens before the finale. The filmmakers were on track to to bring us one of the finest examples of how good a horror film can be. Not just as a scary time waster but as a true piece of cinema magic. So if you are looking for a movie on par with a classic like The Exorcist, search elsewhere. As far as intelligent, well acted, and genuinely creepy stories go though, you could really do a whole lot worse.
Fun Facts from IMDB for The Possession -
Was originally rated R by the MPAA for "violence, terror and disturbing images" but the film was eventually edited to receive a PG-13 rating for "mature thematic material involving violence and disturbing sequences."
Stephen Susco, Moira Buffini and E.L. Katz worked on previous versions of the script.
While promoting the film on Craig Ferguson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan reported that strange incidents took place during production that couldn't be explained. Lights exploded during the filming of key scenes; and just two days after wrapping principle photography, all of the props for the film, stored in case of re-shoots, were destroyed in a fire that mysteriously erupted from within the storage-house.