The Possession ***
Directed By Ole Bornedal
Starring – Jeffrey Dean Morgan,Natasha Calis,Kyra Sedgwick and Madison Davenport
IN 1973 William Friedkin created a horror masterpiece with the supernatural chiller, The Exorcist. The American director created a truly unsettling viewing experience. As viewers watched as a young girl’s innocence mind was corrupted by a malevolent demonic presence. The film became one of the iconic features within the horror genre.
Since then many attempts have been made by several directors to with many films featuring their own variation of the Catholic exorcism ritual. But none have ever managed to recapture the terror of Friedkin’s original. One notable exception, being Scott Derrickson’s 2005 film, The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
But Now Danish director, Ole Bornedal, under the guidance of horror legend, Sam Raimi brings the latest attempt at an exorcism feature with The Possession, certificate 15.Caliming to be inspired by real events, Bornedal’s film has many similarities to Friedkin’s feature, such as, a young girl tormented by a demonic spirit and events taking place within the backdrop of a broken family unit. However the director swaps Catholicism for Judaism, using the fears of the Jewish religion this time around.
Such a move does bring a certain degree of freshness to the feature’s story, but otherwise this is a run of the mill exorcism story, that struggles to deliver with the scares. But the central cast do give strong performances, Including Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Natasha Calis.
Morgan plays Clyde a father attempting to rebuild his life, following the divorce from his wife. He watches as his ex, played by Kyra Sedgwick, begins a new relationship with a new partner, which may complicate life for him and his two daughters.
A promising basketball coach, Clyde attempts to remain the father figure to his two young girls. But he struggles to comprehend the true horror of what is happening to his youngest daughter, Em, played by Calis. His attempts to save his daughter, is probably the strongest aspect of this feature.
He watches as Em develops an unhealthy obsession with an antique wooden box, purchased at a yard sale. Becoming increasingly concerned at her behaviour as the young girl becomes increasingly solitary and removed from reality as she spends time with the box.
When she finally opens the wooden box, the young girl finds herself completely possessed. The spirit, which shows itself to the young girl as an old woman, is later revealed to be a Dybbuk, a malevolent Jewish demon forced into the box by a Jewish ritual.
At times Calis’ performance in genuinely unsettling and much like Linda Blair’s Regan in Friedkin’s film, the young girl gives a strong performance as a child struggling to comprehend what is happening to her. Her performance never enters the realm of annoying child actor territory.
The film’s build-up is slow, almost sluggish, but as the film reaches its climax the pacing switches to overdrive, with a silly overblown finale that is completely off kilter to the rest of the film. The ending ruins what might have been a credible entry within the horror genre, leaving several plot holes and some questions unanswered.
Horror fans may expect much more from the film, considering the involvement of Sam Rami. The director behind such classics as The Evil Dead series and the underrated 2009 feature, Drag Me To Hell. Despite only being a producer on this film, many would have hoped his involvement might have lifted this project above the run of the mill horror genre entry it might have been.
There are little flashes of Raimi’s magic throughout the film, but sadly not enough to please hardened horror fanatics. That said, a standout sequence involving a MRI scan of Em, proved chilling and grotesque and nauseating. But one of the film’s greatest problems is that its trailer gave away too many of its jumps and scares.
But their just wasn’t enough sequences like that to sustain my own personal interest. I had hoped for so much more from this film and I was left a little underwhelmed by the final product. While not awful, the feature just didn’t do enough to unsettle me and left me feeling nostalgic for Fredkin’s original.
Review By William McClean