By Forrest Hartman
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving violence and disturbing sequences
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, digital download and on demand
There have been so many movies about demonic possession that a filmmaker has to do something really special to make a work in the genre stand out. With “The Possession,” director Ole Bornedal seems satisfied to simply restructure scenes that horror fans have already seen, leaving us with a movie that’s as tired as it is creepy.
The action begins with a sequence where an elderly woman is plagued by a voice issuing from a box on her mantle. When she’s had enough, she approaches it with a hammer, only to have her body violently twisted and contorted by an unseen supernatural force. Not long after, Clyde Brenek (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) buys the box for his youngest daughter, Em (Natasha Calis), at a garage sale. Almost immediately, Em becomes possessive of the box, and it doesn’t take long for her to start behaving oddly.
At first, Clyde and his ex-wife, Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick), think Em’s behavior is due to their recent divorce. This seems plausible as Em’s older sister, Hannah (Madison Davenport), is also broken up by her parents’ marital problems. As time passes, however, Em’s behavior grows so erratic and strange that Clyde becomes convinced she has fallen victim to a demon.
“The Possession” contains all the requisite sequences for a movie about evil spirits. Em is often seen glowering and performing creepy acts that no normal pre-teen would consider, and there is an eventual attempt at exorcism. None of these bits are handled badly, but they aren’t presented in an inventive way either. Folks who have seen “The Exorcist,” “The Last Exorcism,” “Paranormal Activity” or any similar offerings have already experienced the best “The Possession” has to offer.
DVD and Blu-ray extras include a feature on the real-life story that inspired the film and two audio commentaries (one with Bornedal and one with writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White).