‘Possession’ is nine tenths of this horror
September 7, 2012
Divorce is hard on parents and even harder on kids, their trust shattered by the realization that mom and dad will no longer be in the next room. The genius of “Possession” is using a demonic spirit as an opportunity to right the “Humpty Dumpty” breakage of divorce, thereby placing the audience firmly in its shattered family’s camp.
While struggling to regain his former status as a top-tier contender, college basketball coach Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), has neglected his young daughters, Emily (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport), along with his fragile spouse Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick), now his brittle ex.
From the film’s opening scenes, it’s evident that: 1. The newly divorced couple is still in love. 2. Stephanie’s new man is a no-go.3. Clyde never wanted the divorce.
When he arrives to pick up his girls for their daddy weekend, Stephanie worries about Clyde’s cooperation in providing for one of their daughter’s vague food allergies. Mom seems unaware of their youngest daughter Emily’s mildly depressed state.
Clyde hopes to regain his daughters’ esteem with his new house, the only one occupied on a cul-de-sac of homes abandoned during various stages of construction after the recent housing crash. The isolated location, along with the creepy box Emily buys at a yard sale, start the film off promisingly. Before long, Emily becomes obsessed with the box that whispers to her in Hebrew, and opens itself up after she turns out the lights.
Those suffering from Mottephobia (fear of moths), are well advised to stay away from “Possession,” as an eclipse of the hummingbird-sized critters harass Clyde and his daughters. But their true purpose is the conveyance of dead souls into bodies of the living.
Anyone threatening to separate Emily from her box or Emily’s mother from her father, is subject to extreme torment. In one case, you’ll want to laugh and cheer at the same time, in the other, we suspect it contains a claim commonly seen in unfortunate custody battles.
Clyde, who refuses to give up on Emily (even after Stephanie obtains a restraining order against him), retains the presence of mind to ascertain that Emily is possessed by a Dybbuk, a demonic spirit of Jewish folklore. To rescue his daughter, Clyde hires a young Jewish exorcist (played by hip-hop and reggae artist Matisyahu).
The story, well-acted by its dedicated and talented ensemble, is ultimately unable to overcome laughable scenes of possession and exorcism. Yet, this tale of a family that must fall to pieces only to discover its strength as a unit, will strike a chord in many.
Since the PG-13 film’s main audience is likely to be horror-loving teens, perhaps we can hope for a small downward turn in 2027’s divorce rate.