The Possession is the one hundred thousandth possession horror film of the year, and much like the ones that preceded it, is hysterically bad. But don’t let that disappoint you because the film has enough unintentional hilarity to derive some guilty pleasure out of it.
The first thing you’ll notice about The Possession is how director Ole Bornedal comes across like a crazy 12 year old fanboy of The Exorcist with a handheld camera who wants to remake the iconic film with his friends in his home’s backyard. The second thing you’ll notice is how the story was written after the film was shot.
From the hacks who wrote Boogeyman and the Nicholas Cage masterpiece Knowing comes a tale of young girl who is possessed by a demon who makes her hurl expletives and contort her body in weird ways. If that sounds like The Exorcist, you’ll be surprised to know that The Possession is completely different – instead of Catholic Churches, this time the ghosties come from a Hebrew box named dybbuk. The girl buys the dybbuk box at a yard sale, much to the demon’s delight and the ignominy of her dad (Jeffery Dean Morgan). As scary as a yard sale sounds, the film then proceeds to borrow elements from not only the Bill Friedkin movie but also from Drag me to hell, The seventh sign and The unborn.
If there’s one thing that The Possession can be credited for is that it is constantly idiotic. You are provided with a lot of laughs by the time our heroic dad provides the biggest facepalm in a scene containing some orthodox Jews. Hilariously, none of the characters seem to care when they notice some paranormal activity around them – the dad is stabbed by his daughter with a fork, but he just shrugs it off; when a bunch of doctors see an MRI scan of the girl that shows a weird freaking living being inside her body, they shrug it off. The film opens with a ‘Based on a true story’ title card, perhaps director Bornedal’s idea was to tell us how indifferent modern American dads and doctors are.
(First published in MiD Day)