The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

‘Exorcist’ ripoff lacks fear factor

Before I watched The Possession, I was filled with anticipation, thinking it would be similar to The Exorcist in its ability to shock and disturb. It proved instead to be a softened and clichéd version of the 1973 horror classic. Though not appallingly awful, The Possession is washed-out in its horror content and lacks creativity in its storyline, except for its portrayal of the Dybbuk, a violent and dislocated spirit originating from Jewish folklore.

The Possession tells the story of a recently divorced couple, Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) with two children, Hannah (Madison Davenport) and Em (Natasha Calis). Em discovers a box inscribed with Hebrew writing on its lid at a yard sale. No one could open the box until one night, Em hears whispers from inside and takes a look. She discovers a tooth, a dead moth and a ring, which she starts to wear. Em becomes gradually possessed by the Dybbuk that lives inside the box, and typical horror movie antics ensue.

The connection between the horror of the film and its depictions of antagonistic family life is jarring. The Possession could almost be seen as a dramatized version of some child psychology flick infused with some black humor. At the times when the movie is actually spooky, the family drama that surrounds it is confusing. It is unable to push through the TV show-esque drama to efficiently strike fear into viewers’ hearts.

Like many horror films lacking in innovation, The Possession has poorly constructed, flat characters and dull dialogue. In one scene Em eats at a furiously fast pace and when her father, Clyde, attempts to chastise her, she stabs him in the hand and immediately cries, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Where is the shock and reaction time? You just stabbed your father’s hand through with a fork! And the girl doesn’t even look sorry.

In another equally perplexing scene Em tells her father matter-of-factly that a friend talked to her from inside of her box. How does a child her age, on the brink of angsty adolescence, accept the existence of an “imaginary” friend who is in fact real? How is it logical for her to not find it strange that a voice emitting from a sketchy wooden box is telling her she’s a special little girl?

Despite some effective scenes, the film’s relentless use of obnoxiously loud sounds and things that jump out at the viewer dominate the picture. The Possession provides silly “Boo!”-style scares and irritating clichés instead of subtle psychological depth.

In short, this is a not-too-hardcore horror flick that’s about as original as The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It would be okay for a relaxed girls’ night in, but don’t be surprised if you press pause five minutes in to start doing nails and surfing for hot Jeffrey Dean Morgan pictures.