‘The Possession’

The Possession poster

The Possession (2012). Directed by Ole Bornedal. Produced by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert. Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Natasha Calis, Madison Davenport, Matisyahu, Grant Show.

I tend not to go to the multiplex very often to catch a horror movie. If I do it’s usually because I’ve heard that a certain movie is worth seeing or I’m desperate enough to see any horror movie on the big screen. This time I was mostly prompted by the latter option, though I also thought I could trust Sam Raimi to produce a halfway interesting movie. I was wrong. Thanks for nothing, Sam Raimi.

Obligatory boring plot description: Recently divorced father Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) buys at a yard sale a mysterious wooden box her youngest daughter Emily (Natasha Kalis) has become fascinated with. Late one night she opens the box and… well, you could probably write the rest of the movie in your sleep, which you’ll have to do because you’ll be in deep R.E.M. by the time you get to the halfway point.

The Possession takes no chances, leaving all risks safely on the shelf, unless you think copying The Exorcist is risky. Being a near rip-off of one of the greatest horror movies ever made, it is entirely predictable. The “scary” scenes are anticlimactic, ending before they can build any tangible amount of tension. Peripheral characters are introduced only to be disposed of almost immediately. Certain beats of the film are detectable with your eyes closed, right down to the moment they happen. Even the “surprise” of the final scene is obvious.

Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve seen very many horror movies of the possession variety. If they all follow this same basic formula perhaps I’m done with this sub-genre.  But the other two I can recall seeing, The Exorcist and The Last Exorcism are two of my favorite horror films. Hmm… maybe the trick is that the better ones incorporate some for of the word ‘exorcism’?

The Possession claims to be “based on true events”. Which, from what I can tell, does not mean there was an actual divorced father with kids, one of whom got a hold of this box and strange things started happening. Heck, even Titanic held truer to actual events than compared to this movie. The only tie to “true events” is the existence of a ‘dybbuk box’ that gained some notoriety last decade when it was sold on ebay. The movie was to be called The Dibbuk Box but the studio changed the title to The Possession, probably because nobody knows what the hell a dybbuk box is.

According to Jewish mythology, a dybbuk is an evil spirit, a lost soul seeking to possess a living person. This box is supposed to contain the spirit, so you’d better not open it. You can find out about the history of the “real” box and its auction by reading this old article from the L.A. Times. I can see why someone would read about this box and think, “Boy, that would make a great movie!” Too bad it didn’t work out too well. You will be more entertained during the time spent researching the original box than you would if you went to see The Possession.

Of course there are people that take this kind of stuff seriously, including the otherwise very cool Sam Raimi (”I didn’t want anything to do with it,” he says with a laugh. ”I’m scared of the thing.”). As you can probably guess I do not believe in the existence of dybbuks or let alone the need for a box to contain them. It did cross my mind that if I had a little extra cash to burn I might buy some “haunted items” on ebay and share with people the horrible, terrible things that did not happen to me and my family. But I’d rather not put money into the pockets of these fraudsters. Fer Pete’s sake, I already gave enough of my money to the fraudsters that made The Possession.

Here’s a worthwhile and entertaining guide to buying haunted items on ebay.

‘The Hands Resist Him’ is a “haunted” painting sold on ebay you may have heard about.

And here is Cracked’s list of 7 Most Questionable Haunted Items on Ebay.


One Response to “‘The Possession’”

  1. Michael K. Vaughan Says:

    You know, I have been possessed by a dybbuk for years and it really isn’t that bad. I got mine out of an old Skooby Doo cookie jar I bought at a thrift store. I think Hollywood just tries to dramatize these things. My dybbuk just makes me read lots of comics and rant on Facebook…no big deal. Now when a movie about a dybbuk comes out it has to suck. Damn!

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