I had blue balls for The Possession. A deep longing that I was sure would be assuaged once I settled in to the cheap-y Toronto movie theatre I chose this past sunny Saturday afternoon. I was sure that I would be cowering in my seat, my popcorn would fly everywhere and my fear vomit would coat the aisles. But alas, my metaphorical balls remained metaphorically blue.
Why was I so excited? Well, a Mr. Sam Rami produced the damn thing and it was based on a true story. A story so true that the main prop in the film supposedly caused all the events that the movie was based on. Would there be demon water mark on the film? When and where would Ted Rami pop up? And where oh, where is Jeffery Dean Morgan's boomstick?! But no, it was a dull, lifeless shell of a film with no true scares. The film begins with the end of a marriage, Clyde Jeffery Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Kyra Sedgewick) have split up (something to do with shoes I think) and their daughters are caught in the middle. To appease his daughters and win them over, Clyde buys his youngest a wooden box that she finds at a garage sale. Now, I'm not a child of divorce but I can tell you, if my parents had let me buy a wooden box I would have thrown it at them. Buy a puppy. Jeez. Anyway, there's a demon in the box that possesses the daughter... or just makes her gassy, there just seemed to be a bunch of wind whenever she was evil. They all start believing that she's really possessed so they get Matisyahu (yes, this Matisyahu) to get the demon back in the box.
The film is in fact so simple that I was distracted by the amount of Apple products in the film. In fact, during one of the last sequences in the film, Clyde uses the Flashlight app on his iPhone. In fact, everything in this film seems to be solved so simply that the only oddly complicated thing is that Clyde can't get his emails to stop going to his ex-wife's computer. A deficiency I chalk up to demon input.
There are decent performances and it is beautifully shot, but nothing really adds up. Characters go missing, the "powers" are all over the place and the biggest difference everyone is talking about is that it is a Jewish demon rather than a Christian demon. Yes, the Dybbuk is back from The Unborn to be ever so slightly different from Pazuzu. Frankly there isn't a whole lot of difference. None that I could sense anyway because the film spends so much time on lame jump scares (this coming from someone whole loooooooooves a good jump scare) that the story is thread bare.
The "actual" true story in as much as I can piece together is that the box (the same used in the film) was repeatedly bought and sold on eBay. Each owner claiming supernatural events accompanied the box. Every time the box was sold, it went for a higher price. Which, I think, would make a far more interesting movie than what The Possession actually is.
I will admit that I'm happy to see the "well-made" horror film making a return. Several upcoming films (such as Sinister) are dropping tiresome gimmicks and trying to focus on a classically made, effectively scare film. Unfortunately the Possession is a retread of everything that has come before it. It's The Exorcist if Regan's dad had been overbearing, it's The Grudge if Japanese ghosts watched It's A Wonderful Life, it's The Evil Dead if it hadn't been awesome. The Possession is a stylishly made, soulless film which despite it's gassy demon and inclusion of a Jewish reggae hip-hop star, never manages to have any fun.