Tuesday, January 22, 2013

George Bell versus The Possession

Nowadays, there are about eight million movies about exorcisms, and The Possession has the distinct privilege of not being the worst one from 2012. That honor goes to The Devil Inside, which is just awful. The Possession, on the other hand, isn't too bad, even if it doesn't deliver too many scares. The characters propel it to be a little bit more than the sum of its parts, so for a Monday night Redbox rental, I was entertained.
Okay, this thing should have been subtitled The Jewish Exorcist, because that's what it is. It's about a little girl, Emily (Natasha Calis), who finds a mysterious box at a yard sale, and once she opens it, she's slowly taken over by a malevolent demon. It takes a lot of cues from The Exorcist, but somehow the filmmakers forgot to add the atmosphere and intensity of the 1973 classic. There are some effective scenes, but overall, I couldn't help but feel like the director, Ole Bornedal, was playing it safe to appeal to as many people as possible.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Clyde, the father of the possessed girl, and he's one of the best things about the movie. I really, really wish he was in more things. Besides this, I've only seen him as The Comedian in Watchmen. As far as performances go, he's two-for-two in my book. Here, besides being Emily's father, he's an apparently great basketball coach trying to get back to the Division I level. His marriage ended in divorce roughly a year before the movie takes place, and he gets his two daughters every weekend. Things get royally screwed up when he buys the demon box for Emily, potentially allowing an evil spirit to literally grow inside her. He does a fantastic job playing a concerned father who's sort of on the outside looking in. His ex-wife is dating someone, and several times Clyde is forced to view his daughters and ex interacting with him as a family unit. That situation sucks, no matter how amicable the split was, and Morgan plays it to perfection.
I'll take a moment to talk about the demon box, or as it's officially titled, the dibbuk box. Outside of the movie, the dibbuk box is a wine cabinet purported to be haunted by a restless, malicious demon. It's been passed through a few owners, each claiming an evil entity inside the box as the cause of misfortune and supernatural happenings. There's a 13-minute documentary on the blu-ray that briefly chronicles the box's travels and different owners. It's a bit silly if you ask me, but as the basis for a horror movie, I love it.
So, once Emily opens the dibbuk box, the demon latches onto her innocence and begins transforming her into one creepy little kid. In one of my favorite scenes, she's brushing her teeth when she starts dry-heaving. Freaked out, she grabs a tiny flashlight and shines it into her mouth. While peering down her throat, she sees fingers crawling up and out. That's a great concept; not only is the demon possessing her spirit, but it's also physically taking over the body of the child. Unfortunately, that premise isn't realized as fully as it could have been, but it still makes for some great scenes here and there.
Here's an honest question for the filmmakers: Why did you cast Matisyahu as the Jewish exorciser? I mean, he wasn't bad at all, but...Matisyahu? That's not really fair, because all I can think about when he's on screen is that he's a Jewish reggae rapper. I mean, c'mon. When his character is introduced, he's even singing along to some song while listening to headphones. What a weird choice.
Matisyahu aside, the ending is a little suspect. In The Exorcist, getting rid of the demon took the lives of more than one person. And even then, it didn't really work. Here, it takes a reggae musican and a lot of yelling. Couple that with some annoying CG (but not the worst, by far), and I could have done with a different outcome. 
Even so, The Possession is short and sweet, clocking in at about an hour-and-a-half. I'll give it a Good, so if you find yourself staring at a Redbox kiosk, you could do a lot worse.
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment