The Possession (2012)
Fear The Demon That Doesn't Fear God
Many a movie about possessions has been born since the days of The Exorcist , but not all of them ended up being...well... good. This one thankfully doesn't follow the path of the ones worse for wear, but it does leave a few questions to be asked. Little kids and creepy voices, moths and violent behavior, all mushed into a rated pg 13 film. How effective is it really? Read on.
Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) are divorced, and as usual it's been pretty rough on their two daughters. After getting a new house, Clyde stops with his girls to find some plates at a garage sale when his youngest - Em (Natasha Calis) finds an interesting box that she talks her father into buying. From there in, strange things start happening and Em starts become more distant and unlike herself as Clyde struggles to figure out whats wrong with her and help before it's too late.
In a movie about possession, there's really a couple ways you can expect it to go - either effects heavy or acting heavy. In the case of this one, things tend to lean more towards the acting side, with most of the work put on Clyde and Em, and a couple of moments of effects (such as moths, people inside, and a few force-throws) that usually happens around the (Dibbuk) box itself. This works relatively well, as it keeps things from seeming too cheesy for the most part, while also adding the stress of a father trying to save his daughter into the mix thanks to the well done acting. Intense emotion helps create the need of urgency, and between the worry you feel for the kid, the family, and the feeling of time counting down it makes for some pretty good suspense. The pace of escalation is also a nice touch - never being too slow during the plot proper, but also never leaving you saying "Well that escalated fast."
Of course, that's not to say I don't have any complaints about the plot. Most of it works well - even down to the ways the family interacts with each other about the problems cropping up - and then there is the box itself. The box is a nice touch, and the fact that some people can hear whispers from inside the box tempting it to be opened just lends to the idea of some form of demon being contained within it. What does not lend to the idea of a demon being trapped inside a box is when (without the box having been opened) the demon in the box can pick a person up, throw them around the room hard enough to break walls, and otherwise cause unreasonable amounts of damage. I mean, if a demon is strong enough to force-push people across the environment and make wind stop blowing while contained in it's prison, why wouldn't it just unlock or break it's prison and get out? I can't help but feel it would have worked better for the box to just cause little mishaps that caused a form of escalation (like "oops, I tripped" leading to someone falling down a set of stairs) instead of it's overly aggressive current methods (literally just throwing people physically around).
The actors do a fine job of delivering their lines, although I can't vouch for the Yiddish at the end, mainly because I can't speak it. There are some moments with Em in particular later on in the film where they try and do a double voice effect, but it ends up not working quite as well as I think they intended it to (everything is still understandable and audio, but it mostly sounds the same as it did before). Clyde seems to be the general focus outside of Em, and we do get to see the actor go through a range of emotions across the film - and for the most part, although his line delivery is done well, occasionally his facial expressions seem to lack the same emotion and delivery of his lines. Creepy audio queues also crop up now and then, although outside of the "evil whispers" nothing really seems to stick as far as songs and stand-out non-character audio.
Effect works is a bit of a mixed bag here. Mostly all the effects here that are done are done well - so don't let me confuse you into thinking they look bad or something like that. From bugs to people being thrown about the room, things all come off looking polished and relatively indeterminable (as to if its practical or digital) which is something enjoyable. The particular effect towards the end with an MRI machine is particularly chilling, much so more than the army of moths earlier on. Although some might find the events creepy, one shouldn't really find them repulsing (given that everything is kept in check by the relatively friend rating), at least due to the violence side of things - although if you really don't like moths then I guess that scene might not sit well with you, because there are a lot of moths .
I can't really think of much else to say about this movie. It's creepy enough that for many it should be found that the age-cut off is reasonable, but also such that it could be impressive that it's rating is only what it sits at (being PG 13 that is). It's worth watching once, although I can't honestly admit that at some point during this film did I find myself scared or feeling tense - but then again, it takes a bit for a movie to make me feel scared or threatened. A couple of moments do a decent job of surprising you though, and I know at least in one instance I thought "holy cow!"
Of course, this doesn't mean that I don't appreciate what they've done, or what others might be frightened by (after all, people out there thought Paranormal Activity was the scariest thing they ever saw), and in the case of this it is based upon an actual real event (which always garners a bit of respect from me, knowing that somebody somewhere went through these hellish events). At the very least, it could make a nice date night movie - it has enough moments that can make a person jump and enough love-themed togetherness within it's plot that it could serve as a pretty good bonding movie for you and your other.