He researches the inscriptions on the box and comes to find out that it was built to capture and constrain an evil spirit from ancient Jewish folklore known as a Dibbuk. According to legend, the Dibbuk possesses and eventually sucks the life out of its host, and Clyde finds himself in a race against time to not only find someone who can help -- a young Rabbi's son Tzadok (Matisyahu) volunteers -- but also to convince the rest of his family that Em's life is indeed in peril.
The End Result
What immediately separates The Possession from most horror movies is its sense of humanity. The cast has wonderful rapport, the dialogue is grounded and full of heart, and the family dynamics ring true, imbuing the action with a heart-wrenching gravitas. The script is particularly impressive given writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White previously penned the thoroughly mediocre Boogeyman, and the Morgan-Calis dynamic is believably tender, with Calis delivering a star-making performance that eases from sweet to sinister.
The Possession isn't as terrifying as, say, Insidious -- although it does have its white-knuckle moments -- but that's part of its charm. It doesn't go for the kill every time (figuratively and literally), preferring to slowly build anticipation and hammer home the human element. Even without a ton of "did you see that?" scenes (common in possession movies), the film's rich look, long zooms and gliding camera movement add to the haunting sense of drama and foreboding. Danish director Ole Bornedal, best known for his two Nightwatch thrillers (one Danish, one American remake), and fellow countryman cinematographer Dan Laustsen (Silent Hill, Mimic, Brotherhood of the Wolf) team up for a lush, cinematic ride that feels a bit like what Steven Spielberg might deliver if he went into straightforward horror. As it stands, The Possession is one of the best fright flicks of 2012 and probably the best demonic possession movie of the past decade.
- Acting: A (The cast is without reproach -- aside perhaps for a minor supporting role that's comically overblown -- particularly Calis, who acts beyond her years.)
- Direction: A- (Attractively shot with great cinematic appeal, even if some of the scares could hit harder.)
- Script: A- (The overall plot isn't original, but it's well paced with crisp dialogue and a real heart.)
- Gore/Effects: B- (Limited, PG-13 violence and good, but unspectacular, CGI effects.)
- Overall: A- (Tense, dramatic and scary, yet surprisingly heartwarming thanks to a grounded script and superb cast.)
The Possession is directed by Ole Bornedal and is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic material involving violence and disturbing sequences. Release date: August 31, 2012.