So comes another weekend, so comes another sprit possession movie. This weekend the latest horror movie crawled out of the woodwork titled The Possession. Believe it or not the title accurately represents the plot of the movie; a little girl buys a wooden box with foreign writing, opens the box, and voila becomes the victim of another spirit possession. So now you might be thinking, if the plot is so predictable and simple, what is the point of going to see this movie? Hopefully I can give you some information that will help you find the answer to that question, or prevent you from spending your hard earned money. So sit back, grab a soda, and enjoy the review.
If the story is predictable in this horror movie there are really only three things to pull you into the theater to see it: the ending, the scare factor, and the delivery. As a reviewer I will not reveal the ending, so I guess that leaves me talking about the other two categories for this review. Let’s start with the scare factor. Upon first glance at the trailer, the scenes they showed me had me thinking this was going to be another jump out at you scream fest that would hardly affect me. Luckily my judgment was wrong. The Possession focuses more on using creep factors to bring the chills to your spine. Dark lighting, doomed cello music, scratchy violins, and other backstage editing tricks help get the goose bumps forming first, just loud enough to get your subconscious acting up, but not enough to be distracting. As the background processes run, the visuals are the next thing to bring you into the “thrill “of the moment. Two sights in particular did most of the freaking out for me. The first would be the little girl’s (Natasha Calis) silent and lifeless staring throughout the movie. Although there were times where she just looked like an angry constipated child about to scream in agony, there were countless scenes where her eyes managed to pierce into my very core. Calis not only had the stare down though, she also managed to deliver her lines with the right emotional edge to have you believe she was really possessed. The scared cracking, the whispering edge of sickness, and the urgency of an obsessed artifact owner were all well combined to make the possession come to life and therefore be scarier. Perhaps the scariest image I saw though was the MRI scene. Although fake, the design of the spirit in her body and the moment of the scene made me shiver a little bit. What really creeped me out the most though, was the spirits voice. Unlike other movies that have used deep voices that mimic James Earl Jones, or primal roars that sound like the werewolf, The Possession focused more on the quiet whispering approach. The voice was just loud enough to reach your ears from the box, and even when she got louder, it still remained silent enough to make skin craw because you had no idea what she was planning to do next.
As for the delivery, well the movie used one of my favorite techniques to keep the movie interesting enough to sit through. Bornedal and his team decided to let your imagination do most of the visualizing for what the spirit looked like. Only her menacing voice and the occasional glimpse of the spirit’s appendages gives one a slight foundation as to what she should look like, which results in your imagination painting a pretty gruesome picture. Even the MRI only sheds a little more light, only helping to fuel your imagination more and further creep you out. It isn’t until the ending of the movie that you finally get to see the real mage of the spirit, and for me well my imagination was a little more gruesome than what we saw. Despite this illusive image though, another thing that helped deliver the scare factor was the setting of the movie. Unlike some of the recent slasher and massacre movies, the setting of this movie is more normalized than the isolated wood/facility settings. Thus the realism to the movie and the fact it is happening in a well-populated town help bring a little more chills to your spine. However, there are a few scenes that still fall under the cheesy horror formula (i.e. someone staying at a building by themselves late, or following the possessed into a dark hall.) These shots are rather predictable and were not that scary to me. Perhaps what I liked best about Bornedal’s direction though was that he limited the number of jump out scenes in the movie, and only used them at the right timing. Yes most of them are predictable to see coming, but there are a few that may just surprise you and make you jump.
The Possession definitely delivers the scares and chills the director intended it to. With a realistic setting, creepy use of sound, video, and imagination, and proper timing, this movie should give you goose bumps long after the credits roll. Despite the fantastic delivery though, there is not enough in this movie to help it stand out from most of the other horror movies in this category. Is it worth a trip to the theaters? Horror wise I think so, but I feel it could be creepier if you’re watching it in your home where you might get an extra terror factor in. My scores for The Possession are the following:
Movie Overall: 6.5