Based on the true story of the Dybbuk Box, The Possession follows young Em (Natasha Calis), who convinces her father Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to purchase a strange-looking box from a local yard sale. When she manages to get the box open, she discovers bizarre objects inside and soon develops possessiveness for the box as her behaviour becomes aggressive and creepy.In the nicest way possible, The Possession is a massive, stinky poo of a film. From beginning to end, it is a Frankenstein’s monster of parts assembled from great horror films to create something that any sane person finds abhorrent, ugly and utterly repulsive.
Blatantly ripping off movies from The Exorcist to The Omen and featuring slices of music that sound almost exactly like John Williams’ iconic score for Jaws, it feels like nothing in this movie is original.
But its worst characteristic is that it is crushingly boring. Until I saw The Possession, I didn’t think a 90 minute film could actually slow burn, but for the first hour of the movie, nothing happens. Nothing at all. It’s as if they made an hour of meandering nothingness and then were suddenly hit by the realisation that they were actually supposed to be making a horror movie. As a result of this, the last half an hour of the film simply piles on all of the demonic possession action that is absent from the rest of the running time. This creates a piece of work that suffers from catastrophic problems with pacing.
Even when The Possession does realise what it’s supposed to be doing and attempts to be scary, it suffers from Ole Bornedal’s faltering direction. Too often, the film feels like a checklist of horror movie tropes that Bornedal frantically ticks off as he moves along through his narrative. We soon realise how little this is actually “based on a true story” as Em exhibits the standard random acts of violence that mark out a movie child as possessed by some demon or another. By the time that the film ends with lots of people being thrown around the room under the influence of a demon that looks like the offspring of Voldemort and Gollum, you will have long lost interest.
Pushed along by poor performances, an oppressively loud score that kicks the audience right out of the movie and an annoying editing quirk whereby the film cuts away seemingly halfway through scenes, nothing about The Possession is worthwhile. It’s better than this year’s earlier demonic dirge The Devil Inside… but only just.
What mystifies me is why Sam Raimi chose to attach his name to this rubbish. He deserves better and so do we.