Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: The Possession

Keeping in line with my recent run of horror flicks, I decided to give The Possession starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan a look.  I have never been too keen on Morgan, who got his big break on Grey’s Anatomy.  His resume is littered with underwhelming films like Red Dawn, Watchmen, and The Losers and for some unknown reason, he has always come off as a cheap man’s Gerard Butler. Ouch!  So I had pretty low expectations going into this movie, figuring it would slot itself a slight step down from Ethan Hawke’s Sinister.  Having seen the movie, I can tell you that I was spot on with that prediction.

The plot of the film focuses on Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a recently divorced basketball coach, who is trying to adjust to limited visitation rights with his children.  When he and his daughter purchase an old relic at a garage sale, odd unexplainable events begin to occur that threaten to unravel his tenuous relationship with his wife and children.  Meanwhile, the frequency and intensity of those events continue to increase as the plot follows the typical exorcism movie paradigm. 

Watching a lot of horror movies is not unlike watching a magician over and over again.  Sooner or later you learn the tricks of the trade and start anticipating the tricks before they fully play out.  So really, it’s hard for these films to genuine surprise a seasoned horror film fan.  Movies like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity that approach the genre from a different direction do not come along too often.  In this regard, The Possession is in no way ground breaking and thus is on par with its highly formulaic brethren.

Despite its mediocrity, there is an attention to the dynamics of the family that really works for this film.  It creates a layer of tension completely separate from that sparked by the paranormal.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan is fairly convincing as a man who is not quite broken but not exactly firing on all cylinders.  Kyra Sedgwick, as his wife Stephanie, does a solid job working off of Morgan and creates a second source of antagonism in the plot.  As for Natasha Calis and Madison Davenport, both of whom portray the daughters in the family, their work is no better than the average child actor’s performance, but then that really falls in line with the overall tenor of the film. 

Despite the handful of things that work in this movie, there are a number of issues that hinder the proceedings.  Logic leaps, unoriginal visuals, and a somewhat anti-climactic ending prevent this from being something more than the typical fright fest.  Ole Borndal does a decent job from a technical aspect of putting these scenes to film, but at the end of a day, a horror movie needs to provide thrills and chills.  And in this regard the film fails to differentiate itself.

I don’t recommend this movie, but I also wouldn’t fault someone for giving it a look – especially if you are a suspense/thriller junkie.  There are so many titles that are similar to this that there really is no need to go out of your way to see this movie.  If you accidentally happen upon this movie via cable or On Demand on a cold October night with a bowl of Halloween candy by your side, then you might find some entertainment value in this movie.  Otherwise, know that the amount of investment you place in this movie (in terms of money and effort) is inversely proportionate to the amount of enjoyment you will experience.

Standout Performance: Matisyahu as the Tzadok gets the nod for turning in an unusual performance.


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