The Possession is another one of those horror movies that purports to be based on a true story, which right away tells you that it’s either most likely very, very loosely based on something that actually happened or it simply didn’t happen at all and is being used as a marketing gimmick. In this case, it’s the former, but before I begin to talk about the film, I should probably note that I should have thrown in a few more “verys” up top.
The film tells the story of a recently divorced couple, Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick), and their two daughters, Em (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport). While at a yardsale, Em happens upon a mysterious box that she takes an immediate liking to. Clyde gets it for her, but not long after he does, strange things begin happening to Em. She begins acting much differently than normal as she begins a bizarre obsession with the box. As things continue to get worse, it also begins to affect Clyde’s relationship with his family, leading him to seek out a drastic solution in order to save his daughter’s life.
This is the story that writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White threw together from an article that they were sent about a box that is said to cause bad things to happen. According to the actual owners of the box, it is said that one owner had a stroke, while a student who had it became rather troubled. So when the writers take that and turn it into a story about demonic possession, you can see what I mean when I say that it is very loosely based on actual events.
As far as being a horror movie, there aren’t that many scares to be had here. It’s basically a standard possession film that has a rather predictable ending. All the while the father runs around in desperation, trying to find a way to help his little girl before something terrible happens. The furthest it gets in scares are the typical loud noises/bangs on the soundtrack, basically telling you when you’re supposed to be scared. I’ve said it before, but this is usually indicative of a film that knows it doesn’t have much going on in the horror department.
What the film does supply, rather unexpectedly, are a lot of laughs. Before I watched the film, I had heard this from others, but I thought they were just trying to tell me that it was a really bad film. However, it turns out that it does have several funny parts, unintentional of course. From the start, when the box tosses around its first victim, you know it’s going to be hard to take this movie seriously. On a side note, did you know that MRIs are an effective way of scanning for demons? I didn’t either, but apparently they show up on the resulting photos, which I suppose is no sillier than having them show up on 8MM film.
The demon, said to be the “taker of children,” seems more like the “demon of wind.” Whenever it would become present, large gusts of wind would come up out of nowhere, making it seem more like Em was possessed by Storm from “X-Men” rather than an evil demon. The obsession with the box was a rather amusing point from the start, as was the fact that it takes Clyde so long to catch on that something is seriously wrong (his daughter stabbing him with a fork in the hand is apparently not good enough).
Snowden and White just didn’t seem to try very hard with this one. The writing duo previously delivered the intriguing and underrated Knowing, so they’ve shown that they can do decent work, but The Possession just seemed like they were on autopilot, delivering a story that had no surprises. If it weren’t for the unintentional laughs they end up providing, then this would have been a complete dud. It’s interesting to note that they are currently working on a Ouija movie, as well as a remake of Poltergeist. I have a hard time imagining anything compelling coming from a movie about a Ouija board, but a remake of Poltergeist, while considered a classic, could be a good place to garner up some scares.
Overall, I would only really recommend this for those looking for a decent laugh, because the film just doesn’t work well on the entertainment level. Those looking for a horror movie that will actually give them scares will have to look elsewhere because they’re simply not supplied here. When you think about it, it was a rather silly idea to make a film about a demon in a box in the first place, but apparently these filmmakers thought there was something there. Unfortunately, they were wrong.
As far as the video and audio quality of the Blu-Ray itself, it’s presented in a 1080p HD Widescreen transfer with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both are crisp and clear with very high quality. The picture is very sharp with no immediately noticeable blurring. The audio is loud and clear, which you would hope they would get right for a film that depends on the old “loud bang on the soundtrack” for most of its scares. Nothing to complain about in either of these departments.
The disc comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary with Director Ole Bornedal
- Audio Commentary with Writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White
- “The Real History of the Dibbuk Box” Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer
Starting with the commentaries, a sampling of the director’s commentary showed that he didn’t really have much to say about the film, instead turning it into one of those commentaries where they just describe what’s happening on screen. It’s a shame because you would think that the director of all people would have some neat things to say about how the film was made. A sampling of the writers commentary (which, as you can probably guess, focuses more on the story) shows that these two actually have some interesting things to say about how the story came about and how it was developed, so if you’re into commentaries, skip the first one and go straight to the second one.
The featurette gives you a little history about the “Dibbuk Box” as it’s called. That was actually the original title of the film, but it was more than likely changed because it would have just confused people. This is where the info I mentioned near the beginning of the review came from. It’s basically interviews with the current owner and former owners of the box who relate stories of what the box has supposedly caused. All in all, the only thing I really learned here was that the writers stretched this story out into something completely different than what actually happened.
What we end up with is a movie that’s just plain silly instead of being scary, which I’m sure was the opposite of the original intention. However, this is something that’s going to be hard to avoid when your whole premise is “Demon in a Box”/a clichéd possession story. The quality of the movie is very high, but the movie itself, as well as there being only one decent special feature on the disc, easily makes this a release that I just can’t recommend.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.
The Possession is a very standard horror tale that scores a point or two for some unintentional laughs, but none for originality or scares.