BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Possession
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I really like scary movies and the last couple of years have been pretty good for horror fans as we've seen a solid collection of films released both on the big screen and home video. Considering all of the impressive haunts hitting the screen, the horror genre has grown immensely. Unfortunately, this means every classic horror film, every spooky old wives tale, every religious myth and ever "reality-based" fright is being tapped for a picture. Enter The Possession, the latest film to hit home video from Lionsgate Films, producer Sam Raimi, Danish director Ole Bornedal, and stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Natasha Calis, and Madison Davenport.
Supposedly "based on true events," The Possession features some interesting ideas which, for those truly familiar with Jewish mythology, will at least seem somewhat unique. That said, there's really not much new here when compared to other "this box is haunted, let's play with it and see what happens" tales. Like many haunting horror films, The Possession features an unknowing or unwilling victim, an overbearing or overprotective relative or friend, an unlikely savior, and a haunted object which, quite frankly, should have been burned or, at the very least, been thrown out with last week's trash. Thus, when you watch The Possession, don't go in with high expectations; simply enjoy the movie for what it is: another somewhat engaging and sometimes unique horror movie you'll likely forget after a few weeks.
Parents Clyde (Morgan) and Stephanie (Sedgwick) have split and tween daughters Hannah (Madison Davenport) and Em (Calis) spend time with both parents; Mom's during the week, Dad's on weekends. Dad, who truly cares for his daughters, still tries to buy their love with pizza and garage sale rinkadinks. So it's really no surprise to viewers when Em picks up a mysterious box at a random old lady's house and strange things start to happen. Of course, Mom and Dad as well as teachers blame the parent's divorce but soon some really strange things start to happen (like grasshoppers flying into and out of Em's mouth not to mention Em's voice dropping three octaves!). Thus, Dad seeks the help of some Rabbis because, well, the box has some Hewbrew on it. Enter a Rabbi who's ready and willing to battle the forces of evil and you've got yourself the fixin's for a fright fest. Almost.
I enjoy both Morgan and Sedgwick on TV though their movie roles haven't won me over. The real redeeming grace in the cast is Calis, who - at 13 - out acts the other, more experienced actors. She's truly haunting at times and literally creeped me out enough I was doing double takes when looking at my own daughter the next day to ensure she wasn't possessed.
Both the video and audio are solid with a 1080p video transfer in the film's original 2.41:1 aspect ratio and featuring an impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 that'll have you looking over your shoulder. I'm a jumper at movies like this and I jumped here - a lot. The startle effect was in full-force throughout The Possession with a solid soundtrack that'll feel right at home for horror film fans.
As for special features, the film includes only a few. An audio commentary with director Bornedal which is informative and somewhat odd (as it seems hit and miss). The disc also includes an audio commentary with writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White which is more engaging and entertaining. The writing couple (they're married) talk about the original newspaper stories which they used as inspiration and more. Lastly, the disc includes the 14-minute "The Real History of the Dibbuk Box," which tells the real story of the eBay auction, the supposedly haunted wine cabinet, the previous owners, and the current owner. It's unintentional, but at times the featurette seems almost funny in the amount of false scares they try to inject into the story.
Overall, The Possession is good for what it is: an entertaining romp in the haunted horror genre which will keep you engaged for 90 minutes and make you jump (quite) a few times. Unfortunately, the movie isn't nearly as interesting as the real story and the real story isn't nearly as entertaining as the movie. The Possession unfortunately won't stick with you nor keep you up at night, but it will help you escape your unhaunted life for 90 minutes.
The Possession is available now on blu-ray and DVD home video wherever fine home video are sold.
- Jess C. Horsley