Tuesday, 25 September 2012


The Possession [Review]

Opinion: C

Uneven story-arc and plot structure are the chiller's true horror as it allows evil to feed away on its originality and inspiration. Ole Bornedal's film about a young girl being filled by a tormented soul is disappointingly hollow without depth, rendering the producing credits by Sam Raimi to be completely void of genre quality assurance. Strictly for genre fans only and for those who seek thrills and chills, Halloween's just around the corner.

Based on a true story, THE POSSESSION is the terrifying story of how one family must unite in order to survive the wrath of an unspeakable evil. Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie Brenek (Kyra Sedgwick) see little cause for alarm when their youngest daughter Em becomes oddly obsessed with an antique wooden box she purchased at a yard sale. But as Em's behavior becomes increasingly erratic, the couple fears the presence of a malevolent force in their midst, only to discover that the box was built to contain a dibbuk, a dislocated spirit that inhabits and ultimately devours its human host.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the role of the single father of two daughters who assumes certain care-taking responsibilities in conjunction with his ex-wife. The divorce chapter between Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick as well as their differences are not detailed and the chemistry between both doesn't hint of hostility and incompatibility. The audience aren't privy to too much background. One may wonder if the daughters had a part to play towards their divorce although it was mentioned that Morgan "wasn't always there" for his family.

The film begins with an uninspiring story and character establishment that are regularly transitioned with fade-to-blacks, leaving too much chronological plot gaps for the audience to manage. The editing style detaches the characters from the audience, resulting in them being another mere set of characters in yet another horror genre practice.

Young Emily soon finds herself interacting with her new found friend who dwells inside a wooden box with Hebrew characters carved upon it. Typically, children are proactively curious towards strange acquaintances that they cannot explain. Emily's innocence soon attracts the Dybbuk and everything turns for the worse from there.

The family consists of some good people who have been nice and caring towards one another, besides the divorce setting. How and why did such supernatural calamity transpire upon the family is a mystery that isn't addressed in the film. What is meant to be achieved is a depiction of how the family negotiates their way out of darkness towards the light, albeit a solo effort by Morgan's character mostly.

As the father of the possessed daughter, he has so much to contribute towards the process but yet little is known of him. Performance by Morgan feels a little reserved while his younger daughter Emily (Natasha Calis) endures uneven buildup of her possession. There are dull and peaceful moments in between the Dybbuk's "attacks" despite clear opportunities presenting themselves for evil to manifest and wreck havoc.

An interesting choice of hero sees a young Rabbi who seems a little too helpful and selfless when the rest of his people refuse to heed the call of aid. Of course, it is yet another of the screenplay's obligatory element of plot convenience (by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White). Imagine if nobody wishes to extend their helping hand, the story will be simpler: Emily gets consumed by the demonic entity that is in physical possession of her.

Exorcism is thus a highly predictable expectation. It is delivered in the form of a climatic scene and the technical qualities serve it adequately well. One particular scene adopts the strategic use of strobing lights to allow the audience's imagination to piece together the various flashing images. Photography by Dan Laustsen (Solomon Kane, Silent Hill) is influential though nothing remarkable.

The Possession may appear creepy on the outside, but a lack of convincing screenplay renders it soulless.


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