It is that time of year again where the horror films start to show up at the box office. This time it is another film about possession base on a true story. Most of the times these movies tend to look eerie or frightening but often fall flat at the box office. Usually that is due to either slick marketing or just poor execution of the material. This film I feel does not disappoint. It is a slow build up of a movie, which takes it's time to tell the story of the possessed girl. I should though point out that there is actually two stories going on during the film, one is of course the possession of the young daughter, the other story is that of a broken family, which is not played our melodramatically but with soul and some reality to it.
The story centers around the character Em and her startling fascination around this box her father buys her at a yard sale. She becomes obsessed with it and won't let it out of her sight. Her father becomes concerned about her fascination with the box and starts to notice things are slowly changing with his youngest daughter and she is acting like someone completely different. She's becoming violent, lashing out, has distanced herself not only from her friends but her family. After taking the box away from his daughter the father, Clyde, decides to find out exactly what this box is about. He takes it to a University professor who states it's a form of Dybbuk box, one that houses a demonic spirit. A Dybbuk is an evil spirit from Jewish folklore. The father enlists the help of a rabbi to come and try to get the demon back into the box.
It sounds like a generic style possession film but it is a good one, a very good one. I loved the pacing of the movie. It takes it's time to slowly build the tension and the terror that this family and especially Em is going through. There are scares throughout the film, and they are genuine scares, not the jump scares or the fake scares that most modern day horror films throw in to disguise poor story telling. This is a pretty chilling story and is one of the better possession films I have seen. The acting is strong through out the movie and never stoops to the over the top dramatic acting you get with these type of movies.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen, Supernatural) plays Clyde, the father in the movie. He's getting over his divorce from his wife and having to deal with his children and not really feeling like he has been the best dad he could have been. He is a basketball coach and a lot of the time he has spent away from his family. You get the sense that he deeply loves his children and a hint of love still for his newly dating wife. I've always like Jeffrey Dean Morgan, he is very natural on screen and has a very charismatic presence when is in front of the camera. I find him a very likable actor and he always seems to bring a warmth to the character, no matter who he is playing. There is a sense of honesty in him you see on screen and I think that translates over well to the viewer making them believe in his performance. He is great at showing emotion and going on the proverbial emotional roller coaster ride. He does that very well in this movie. Always a joy to watch him on screen.
Natasha Calis plays Em the possessed daughter. This is a break out performance for her and I really think she steals the show. She has to lay it all out there on the screen to make the audience believe she really has a Dybbk possessing her. Calis does such a remarkable job at portraying Em and is a delight to watch. Definitely an actress to watch out for. She may be young but she has the skills to go far, if she gets the right roles. She has a light side to her as we see in certain scenes in the movie but it's her dramatic scenes that really stay with you and lets you see just how good she is.
Kyra Sedgwick plays the mother, Stephanie. I've always liked Kyra, especially in The Closer, and she is good in this movie as well. She gives a good strong performance when she is on screen and I feel played off Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Clyde very well. Not really much to say about this part except that Kyra did a good job with the role.
Directed by Ole Bornedal, I am not familiar with his work but I soon will be. Ole really knows how to work the camera and his pacing of this movie was spot on. I really liked how fresh he made this movie feel with the time of his cuts and the way he worked the camera. He doesn't jump around to silly scenes or fill the screen with nonsense, he makes every shot not only count but also work in the time frame of the movie. I love the slow building of the movie. It gives you a sense of you don't know what to expect around each corner. This is another director that people should start to pay attention to.
The score was very fitting for the movie. It made the build up creepier and creepier with every building scene. It also added needed atmosphere that these style of movies need.
I think this is a movie that will slide under the radar. I don't know if a lot of people know this movie is out. I haven't seen too many adds for it and I was at a 7:00 showing on a Friday and only 10 people were in the theatre, that was including me and my wife. I hope this does well because it is one of the better American made modern horror movies out there. Another thing that impressed me about it is how well it was pulled off without the director needed to fall back on gore and violence for the shocks. Great work on this production all around.
I give this movie 4 stars out of 5. There was one scene in particular that really bothered me with shoddy lighting effects and it kind of took me out of the moment. I do easily though, recommend this movie. If you are looking for a good scare during the weekend or even during the week you won't go wrong with "The Possession". Till next time my friends.