Initially excited to watch The Possession, I ultimately wound up disappointed. While the film features a somewhat compelling horror storyline, I found the movie suffered from its backstory. Released in 2012, The Possession stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Clyde, the absent father of two who is trying to balance his work life with spending time with his girls and making nice with his ex-wife. His youngest daughter, Em, finds a mysterious wooden box at a yard sale and purchases it. Once she opens the box, all hell breaks loose (not to mention many moths) and Em starts to go crazy.
The problem with this horror film is almost the opposite of the problem I had with House at the End of the Street. While that film had zero plot or character development, this film seemed to have too much of it. At times, the film lingered far too long on fights between Clyde and Stephanie (his ex-wife) or scenes related to his professional life or scenes in which Stephanie interacted with Brett, her new boyfriend. While all of this allowed me to understand and connect with everyone, and especially Em, it was too much. Sometimes the film felt like a drama, not a horror. Or a drama, with a bit of horror tossed in for good measure. There has to be a balance, and I don’t think this film achieved it.
The Possession had the tools to get there - it also stars Kyra Sedgwick, who is certainly not a novice actor. Em, played wonderfully by Natasha Calis, is a riveting character and I enjoyed watching her spiral out of control. Even the premise of the film began great, but then it got lost in the back story. I felt as though the film lost itself at times and that led to it losing me. By adding in gobs of backstory throughout the film, the final throwdown and conclusion seemed rushed and hastily performed. I think this film would have benefitted greatly from some tough editing and some re-shoots. While it wasn’t always scary or creepy, there were times when the horror shined through, but they were overshadowed by the other scenes.
Overall, The Possession was mediocre at best and often less than that. It certainly doesn’t compare to Sinister, released in the same year, or a lot of other horror films. I’ve seen worse, but I expected better. The only consolation prize is that like many other horror films, this one featured a chain reaction storyline, which lends itself incredibly well to sequels. While I don’t typically hope for horror sequels, unless of course it means more time with Jason Voorhees, I do hope this film gets one. A sequel may be just the opportunity it needs to take a decent idea and make it into a great film.
If you liked The Possession, you might also like Evil Dead, The Conjuring and The Evil Dead.