The Possession (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
16Jan/130

The Possession (2012)

1Andrew DISLIKE BannerI'm starting to believe that the Spider-Man series broke Sam Raimi beyond repair.  He doesn't act as the director of The Possession, but his money and influence is keenly felt in a number of scenes that openly rip off some of his films.  Unfortunately there's little plagiarism of the fun and macabre Sam Raimi of Evil Dead, but the tired one that made Drag Me to Hell.

I'm aware that film has it's fans and I at least applauded his efforts to try and go back to find what kick-started his popularity in the late '80s.  But, if someone could please be kind enough to enlighten me, who watched DMtH and thought that the film needed more somber line readings and mood lighting fit for depression?  Much of The Possession is a retread of the themes of DMtH, especially the way bulimia is referenced during one of the many forced vomiting scenes in The Possession, but desperately needs to have aped some of the fun.

"Oh papa, I simply must have this box adorned with demonic runes that the bandaged man across the street is screaming for."  I still don't quite understand how no one knew they were making a comedy.

"Oh papa, I simply must have this box adorned with demonic runes that the bandaged man across the street is screaming for."

Since we're dealing with demons and exorcism here I suppose we might as well start off with the cardinal sin of the film - boredom.  Raimi's influence is fused with a sense of melodrama regarding the possession of little Em Brenek (Natasha Calis).  I'm not exactly a fan of exorcism films to begin with and the very few that I have liked at least try to have some fun poking at the ludicrousness of the whole enterprise - failing that, base competence.  When Em's father Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) discovers his daughter trying to mutilate herself or ensnared in giant moths for the fifth or sixth time I would hope a bit of shock might come into his voice.

Morgan takes the unusual route of reacting to near-Biblical quantities of insects by not reacting at all and reading his lines as though he's ordering pens in bulk.  This is a very unusual way to react to the blanket of bugs your daughter wants to wear while whispering violently about a box.  Doubly strange is the fact that even his ex-wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) finally buys into this whole demon thing that she engages in the same kind of office supply excitement as her husband.  Both performers I enjoy thoroughly, but their acting is this film borders on some kind of comatose dare to see who can emote less than the other.

This throws the entire film so off course that even the arrival of the singing rabbi (Matisyahu) leading mama and papa against the hell inside their daughter is treated the same way.  This in a film where papa is initially written as the wet dream of indie quirk fathers making words sound funny during a shadow puppet show and mama's new amazing boyfriend who, in the same sentence, is both cheering her up about her daughter's problems and saying, "Why don't you slow down a bit drunkie."  All this is also right before magic boyfriend stands and examines a tooth Em is clutching in her hand while she's just standing around alone in the garage.  This is not a horror-drama at this point, but an extremely confused horror-comedy.

It was at this point my soul began to ache for Mel Brooks' hand on the screenplay or at least a less depressed lighting crew.

It was at this point my soul began to ache for Mel Brooks' hand on the screenplay or at least a less depressed lighting crew.

The idea of people deadpanning their way through a ridiculous horror scenario could be played well but not when the performers and creative staff are all on sleep medication.  This helps explain the direction where a bevy of shots and sequences come off as half-finished thoughts quickly forgotten.  There's one moment where papa tells super boyfriend to stay away from his daughter's teeth is followed quickly thereafter by a shot of the American flag flying in the opposite direction.

What important information is this shot sharing with us?  My best guess is the orthopedic industry is killing the youth of America.  I'm probably being a bit generous with that assessment so what about the scene where the clearly possessed daughter is being shot through a jar?  I guess someone thought it looked creepy enough.

It isn't.  Nothing can be enough in a film where everyone seems to be striving for a participant award and not a merit more.  For that I hope Sam Raimi got a nice ribbon.

TailThe Possession (2012)
Directed by Ole Bornedal.
Screenplay written by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White.
Starring Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Kyra Sedgwick.

Posted by Andrew

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