Dir: Ole Bornedal
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick,
Madison Davenport, and Natasha Calis
Horror flick doesn’t cover much new ground
MONTE YAZZIE ~ THE FOOTHILLS FOCUS~ 9/12/2012
The Exorcist is a horror film that has transcended into the realm of authority, with many films dealing with religious symbolism and the ritual of exorcism mimicking aspects from the movie. The Possession, directed by Danish filmmaker Ole Bornedal, changes the perspective somewhat by focusing on elements of Judaism instead of Catholicism, however the film fails to exceed much further than already familiar genre territory.
Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie Brenek (Kyra Sedgwick) are newly divorced and trying to make the best of a bad situation for their two daughters, Emily (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport). While at their father’s new home, in the middle of nowhere, they stop at local yard sale. Emily becomes enthralled with an antique wooden box, which unbeknownst to the family is actually a containment vessel for a malicious evil spirit that takes a liking to young Emily.
Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert produce the film and their presence can be felt in the frightening opening introduction that feels similar in tone to the stunning Drag Me To Hell. However, all comparisons end there as the film proceeds to establish a more serious and straightforward demeanor. The first act of the film feels lengthy, offering the characters more than ample time for development but keeping the narrative at a slow moving pace. This technique permits opportunity to explore the fractured family relationship and also allows for scares to sneak up on the viewer. Unfortunately, a majority of these moments of terror are nothing more than jump scares heightened by supporting components, in particular the overactive soundtrack.
Natasha Calis is particularly good as the conflicted Emily; her transition from a kind-hearted young lady with a joyful smile to a moth attracting, anger consumed animal is convincing and startling. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick play the oblivious, self-consumed parents well, but they unfortunately get lost in scenes of greater dramatic despair.
Once the true possession story takes over the film makes the promising move to exploring the aspects of symbol and religion in Judaism. Clyde, desperately looking for someone to help his ailing daughter, seeks help from a rabbi in New York City. Bornedal shines as he displays some keen insight in regards to the examination of Judaism, allowing the tension to remain high and utilizing the dark characteristics of religion to promote the storytelling. However, it feels half-handed and secondary in the whole of the narrative, especially in regards to timing. Because the film spends so much time establishing the characters, the provoking element of religion feels clouded in the mix. This aspect could have offered a compelling finale, excelling the topics of advanced technology, contemporary medicine, and old-world folklore together with staggering effects.
The Possession isn’t necessarily a bad film, but it’s not particularly a good one either. Though it does offer a good performance from the young Natasha Calis and some inventive set locations and environments that allow for a few creepy moments, the film never lingers too far away from the familiar formula genre fans will undoubtedly compare to Friedkin’s iconic film.
2.75 out of 5.00