September 14, 2012

The Possession (2012)

"A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit. The girl's father teams with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child."

Even though I watched this a few days ago, I thought I'd better wait for the whole week since its release to pass just to give you all chance to see it before I mercilessly ruin it for everyone with spoilers.

The thing is, with a formulaic horror film like this which was put together with so much contempt for the audience, why should I even care if I give away all the details and help to deprive it of a few overpriced cinema ticket sales? Obviously, I don't.

So what was "The Possession" really about? Was it simply the fictional story of a dybbuk who looked like Gollum from "The Lord of the Rings" or was any of it based on the true story of a possessed item bought from a yard sale? I have absolutely no idea, but I do know that this was yet more lazy filmmaking which created a product designed to appeal to stupid teenagers with more money than sense.

There were two huge warning signs for this movie which I chose to ignore. The first of these was that it was yet another Sam Raimi produced "Ghost House" picture. Has there even been one film carrying that label which was half-way decent? I think not. The second was that it had a PG-13 rating. Although it's completely possible to re-rate an older scary movie as a PG-13 and retain its scariness, modern filmmakers are physically incapable of creating anything which we could call "horror" when restricting themselves to the whims of the MPAA. What the hell is the point of a PG-13 horror movie anyway? What do you expect to see in it apart from a CGI monster? Or do you just want to be jolted awake by an obnoxiously loud jump scare which drowns out all the texters and chatters in the cinema?

When I saw that the director was none other than Ole Bornedal, who had a minor success with the original Swedish version of "Nightwatch" (1994) but less so with the 1997 remake starring Ewan McGregor, I was still prepared to give "The Possession" a chance. Even though Ole Bornedal's "Nightwatch" wasn't a patch on Timur Bekmambetov's fantasy movie of the same name (which has created a lot of irritation for me when I've been trying to buy memorabilia from eBay over the years), I let that pass. I shouldn't have forgotten about the other kiddie-friendly movie which he made for "Ghost House Pictures" called "The Substitute" (2007), but anyone who has the courage to put the gorgeous Lene Nystrøm from Aqua in a horror film, such as he did with "Deliver Us from Evil" (2009) still deserves some respect even if that thriller wasn't very good either.

Of course, the other big draw for me was the chance to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who I only know as the "Comedian" from "Watchmen" (2009), in something that had the potential to stretch his acting muscles a bit more. I had no idea he was also from that lame horror TV show for girls, "Supernatural", or that would have been the deciding factor in favour of not watching "The Possession" at all. Alas, it wasn't the only mistake I made this week, as you know.

I've chosen the picture above as typical of everything that was wrong with "The Possession". It had children in it, stupid CGI effects, adults who were looking the other way most of the time and who couldn't see the obvious until it was right in front of them, and, basically, it was totally ridiculous.

Although it started off well with all sorts of domestic situation problems which promised to be interesting later plus some quite likeable characters, everything took a turn for the worse when the father, who was named after Clint Eastwood's monkey, decided that the most fun thing he could take his daughters to was a yard sale. What did they buy there which little girls would love to have? An iPhone? A rare Barbie? Justin Bieber CDs? No. Instead, the littlest of the little girls decided that she wanted a crappy old wooden box with Hebrew inscriptions all over it. This was based on a true story, right? Oh, yes, I can see how all this really happened. Not.

It's not that I haven't heard of possessed items being bought from yard sales or thrift stores before. I once heard a story on "Talk Radio" (back when it was good and wasn't "Talk Sport") about someone who bought a haunted chest of drawers which made everyone feel suicidally depressed. I've even seen cursed lamps, dollhouses and mirrors bought from yard sales at Amityville, but, of course, the latter were all in crappy horror movies too.

One thing I'd never heard of before "The Unborn" (2009) was a "dybbuk" (or "dibbuk") which, apparently, thanks to "The Possession", I now know can be banished into a box just like an evil genie into its bottle (provided, of course, that you know its name which is hidden behind a mirror in the aforementioned box). A dybbuk is therefore a djinn without any of the three wishes fun and games. Thanks for that, Sam Raimi.

I also now know that if you want to get rid of a dybbuk, traditional Jews won't help you but their rebellious popstar offspring will. I must admit that I thought Matisyahu as Tzadok was pretty great in his role, and I just loved his impersonation of a drinking bird toy from the '70s when he was exorcising the dybbuk.

Let's face it, this film was utter trash. It stole all of its ideas from older exorcism movies including the big one, "The Exorcist", with everyone trusting in the psychology crap followed by an MRI and all that other nonsense instead of just believing in the supernatural like any normal person would. When Clyde, who, to his credit, was the first to believe, offered himself to the dybbuk in place of his daughter, I could see William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty spinning in their graves, and neither of them is even dead yet.

And what about that hospital? Would you ever want to be in a hospital where someone could make that much noise, scream their lungs out and smash the place apart without anyone coming to see what was going on? I know it was an American hospital and medical care in the States is non-existent unless you pay $1,000,000 an hour for it, but this was just bullshit. Oh, I forgot for a second there that this was based on a true story.

Possibly the only part of "The Possession" which was true was the ending. Yes, you probably will die if you are talking on your cellphone instead of concentrating on driving, and I'm sure I could find some statistics to prove that it has happened to thousands of people already if I could be bothered. Whatever, just don't do it.

So what do you think my rating will be for "The Possession"? It's not even out on DVD yet so I can't physically throw it into "The Dungeon". But, since this is the internet and I can cast this dybbuk-filled mess into any virtual box I like, that's precisely where it's going. True story.

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