Even with such a generic title, The Possession manages to give a few surprises along with a couple of chilling moments. It borrows from other films, but manages to be a well-done thriller – even if it is a tad predictable.
Originally titled Dibbuk Box (which is a much more interesting name than the generic title they went with for its release), the film stars Natasha Calis – who tackles the role of Emily, a young girl adapting to the divorce of her parents. Along with her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport), Emily spends her week days with her mother Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and the weekends with her father Clyde (Jeffery Dean Morgan) at his new house.
Although everyone in the film does a good job, the film’s plot primarily focuses on Calis’ performance and Morgan’s reaction to it. Sedgwick gets lost somewhere within, as most of the scenes take place at Clyde’s house when he has the girls. Davenport is also quasi-wasted in the film with little to do other than move the story along by pointing out Emily’s increasing bizarre behavior.
Morgan’s Clyde is somewhat of a work alcoholic and it seems to have cost him his family. He is a high school basketball coach who puts everything into his team, and often lets practice override family commitments.
Because of their separation (which gave Stephanie most of the household belongings in the divorce) and his new house, Hannah suggests Clyde stop at a yard sale and get him some dishes. The yard sale turns out to be at the house of the lady who is assaulted by a supernatural force that seems to be coming from an ornate box during the opening minutes of the film.
It didn’t work out so well for the lady with the hammer, and the audience knows that Emily probably shouldn’t purchase the box – which is covered in strange writing. Not only does Clyde buy the box for Emily, she figures out the secret latch needed to open it.
Once opened, the film shifts into a somewhat “by-the-numbers” demon possession film with Clyde and Hannah noticing strange occurrences happening in Clyde’s house (such as a sudden infestation of moths), and Emily becoming obsessed with the box along with behaving stranger and stranger (Emily assaulting Clyde with a fork should have been the first flag that something might be wrong here).
Although Clyde fears what is happening to his daughter, Stephanie is blind to it and even has his visitation rights removed after Emily appears to be assaulted and runs away from Clyde’s home. Clyde finally does some research on the strange box and discovers it is actually a Dibbuk – a box of Jewish and Hebrew legends that is designed to hold an evil demon.
Clyde attempts to get the demon out of Emily, but quickly figures out he is going to need more help. He heads to New York City to seek help from a rabbi. With a rabbi on board, Clyde heads to the hospital to get the demon out of Emily and back in the box.
The Possession manages to give a chill or two (there is a disturbing scene with Emily having an MRI done that might even manage a scare in some viewers), but fails to really deliver on a really great premise. Most supernatural possession films have the demons as spirits(air-like beings without bodies), but The Possession takes the premise further by having the demon seen as an actual creature with fingers in the throat; an eye melting out of its socket; and in that great MRI scene.
Natasha Calis adds to some of the film’s chills with a great performance – probably the best reason to watch the movie. She starts the movie as an innocent bundle of joy. She is full of light and laughter, and it is clear to see why Clyde is wrapped around his daughter’s finger. As the demon in the box takes control, Calis changes everything about her character.
The film does obvious special effect changes (such as her eyes changing color or hair darkening), but Calis also changes the way she stands, moves and carries herself. It is a great transformation and helps sell the scares on the screen.
Along with looking and sounding great on Blu-ray, the special features add to the mystery of this so-called Dibbuk box with a documentary about the real box and the effect it has had on those who have dared to own it.
The supposed real box is actually a wine cabinet and the owner of it takes you on a tour through its previous owners and the bad luck that came when they purchased the box, to what he decided to do with it (can’t leave it lying around for some unsuspecting person to open). It is up to the viewer to decide if this is on the level or not.
The Possession is a movie that keeps you watching, but it is pretty predictable. We have all seen this before, but the film is helped with unique aspects – such as the divorce angle playing up the dad’s dilemma and the box being the source of the possession. There are not really any great scares, but The Possession does provide some great tension and a couple of chills here or there.
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