With Hollywood having run through pretty much every horror cliche going, The Possession reaches out to Jewish folklore and the legend of the dibbuk box, a wooden container said to contain the spirit of a dibbuk, an evil spirit that can haunt and even possess people.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Clyde, who’s recently divorced from Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick). He takes his two daughters to a yard sale near his new home, where his youngest, Em (Natasha Kalis), becomes intrigued by a locked wooden box. As you can probably guess, it’s not long until strange things are happening and the daughter has become obsessed with the box.
Clyde knows something weird is going on, but he has difficulty convincing anyone, particularly as it looks to the outside that he could be hitting his daughter. He must find out what’s going on and stop the dibbuk inside the box before it devours the young girl.
If you’re looking for some undemanding horror that does nothing that you haven’t seen a thousand times before, The Possession will fit the bill. However if you’re want something genuinely disturbing and tense, you’d better look elsewhere.
The film has some good ideas, and Natasha Calis is effective as the possessed daughter. Her increasing obsession with the box and the fact you’re never fully sure whether she’s a normal little girl or the thing that’s possessing her works well, but everything around her feels generic and a little hackneyed, barring a couple of successful moments, such as fingers appearing in a young girl’s throat. It tries every trick in the book to scare us, but little of it works because it’s feels like it’s trying so hard to be scary that it forgets to actually chill us. Even the presence of Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert as producers can’t help this feel anything but journeyman.
And by the 30th time moths start fluttering around it becomes more tedious than scary. Indeed you’re only likely to be truly terrified by this film if you’re mottephobic (fear of moths).
While the film is pretty run of the mill, the special features aren’t bad. Most interesting is the featurette, ‘The Real History Of The Dibbuk Box’, which takes a look at the old Jewish legend behind the movie and the people who say they’ve been affected by real dibbuks. What the people have to say is actually more interesting and creepy than the movie, which just goes to show how wide of its potential mark The Possession is.
Overall Verdict: The Possession isn’t dreadful, but despite having an idea with plenty of creepy potential, its chills and thrills are so run of the mill it’s simply going through the horror motions.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac