Neck hairs are adequately stood up and skin sufficiently crawled in this surprisingly decent exorcism horror which treads familiar Hollywood scare ground but does so quite effectively.
Written by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White (Knowing, Boogeyman), The Possession follows Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a loving father who looks after his kids on the weekend as he and his wife (Kyra Sedgwick) are now divorced. One day while shopping at a garage sale his youngest daughter, Em (Natasha Calis), finds a strange old box with carvings on it which doesn’t seem to open. However, when Em manages to open the box Clyde begins to notice a frightening difference in her.
The latest in a long line of similar movies, which unfortunately tend to miss the mark more than they hit, The Possession manages to do what it says on the tin – or in this case box – as it punctuates a well handled familial drama story with creepy scenes which range from things going bump in the night at the new house to bugs appearing seemingly from nowhere and beyond. It also gets the most it can out of the much utilized “creepy little girl with hair covering her face” routine first popularised with Japanese horror Ringu.
The likes of underrated The Last Excorcism, the silly The Rite and the downright terrible The Devil Inside, to name but a few, have already graced our screens in recent years. The Possession actually stands as one of more passable examples of the overused horror sub-genre. It’s actually rather refreshing to see an exorcism film which doesn’t feel the need to have any sort of gimmick (this year’s The Devil Inside was enough to render the found-footage style inert when it comes to scaring people), choosing a more traditional method of horror storytelling and is all the more enjoyable for it.
That’s not to say The Possession is any sort of masterpiece of modern horror though, far from it. There’s one too many plot conveniences and things explained away without much thought, it sways into silly territory with some of its set-piece scares, and while it’s nice that it doesn’t go out of its way to have a gimmicky edge it also means it’s rather generic overall.
We’ve seen this sort of thing done a million times and The Possession brings nothing really new to the table, meaning it won’t linger long in the memory. Nevertheless it manages to succeed rather admirably in providing a decently creepy and atmospheric experience. As Hollywood horror fare goes it’s one of the better examples.