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    The Possession (Movie Review)

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    Paeter
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    The Possession (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on September 1st 2012, 2:00 am

    In The Possession, recently divorced Clyde is attempting to build a new life over the weekends with his teenage daughters. When they stop at a yard sale, his youngest daughter, Emily, purchases an old wooden box with Hebrew characters etched on the outside.

    Soon the box gains a treasured place in her room, her schoolbag, and every moment of her life. Emily's behavior becomes more and more strange and violent. When coupled with the eerie events that are becoming increasingly frequent around Emily, Clyde realizes he is facing a supernatural evil intent on destroying his daughter, that he is unprepared to confront.

    The Possession is not gory. It doesn't thrive on jump scares. It also doesn't have a central "creature" providing thrills. Instead, it falls into what I would describe as the "creep-scare" genre, which includes movies like The Ring, The Grudge and Paranormal Activity. In fact it owes quite a bit to these movies, despite doing a few new things.

    Performances are pretty good, though a little inconsistent, ranging from engaging and realistic to "actors making choices". Even Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Clyde) is not immune to this, although he still anchors the movie very well and is easy to sympathize with. I do have to give high praise to Natasha Calis, who played Emily. Keep that name in your memory banks. I'm betting she'll be a big star within 5-10 more years.

    The visual effects are well done except when they overstep their bounds and become too ambitious. In these moments, the tell-tale signs of CGI took me out of the movie, wishing they had used make-up effects instead.

    There are several very creepy visuals that genre fans will enjoy and even get some tingles from. But this movie is still likely to be forgotten not long after viewing. Why?

    I believe that the "creep-scare" genre succeeds largely on the merits of its twisted visuals. The first time I saw "The Ring" or "In The Mouth Of Madness", I walked away with unsettling images burned into my mind that haunted me for a long time. These images worked because I'd never seen anything like them before.

    The Possession doesn't exactly rip off images already used in older films, but it still does little more than create "variations on a theme". They didn't quite dig deep enough into the twisted hidden corners of the mind to bring up new and truly bizarre images to share.

    One variant I enjoyed was the use of Jewish folklore as a backdrop for the supernatural myths of the movie, rather than the same old Roman Catholic backdrop. Something I found interesting, however, was how little this change affected the plot, and how similar the battle between "religious folks" and demons was in this movie, compared to any other exorcism movie.

    Once again, despite the religious overtones, it never quite seems to be God who is defeating evil, but people. (Hmm. On second thought, maybe what seemed to be God's lack of involvement explains the final frames of the movie...) Rather than an obvious, prayerful appeal to God to intervene, the Rabbi (at least I think he was a Rabbi) in conflict with the demon uses a series of objects, ingredients and personal items collected from the main characters, so their strengths will enhance the spell. Ahem! I mean "exorcism"...

    In these movies, most of the time it seems you could change the dressing on these religious guys and just as easily make them into spell-casting wizards, using a collection of components and reading words from a mystic tome to get the job done. God doesn't seem to be very involved.

    If anything, the Rabbis who DO bring God into the equation present his involvement as much more passive. These older, more seasoned Rabbis advise Clyde to "leave it to the will of God". Clyde angrily asks them if it were their child, would they "leave it to the will of God".

    If anything, our heroes enter the final confrontation relying more on their own strength and determination than the help of God.

    The Possession is one I'd recommend as a $1 rental, in which case I don't think it will disappoint. But in the meantime, you'd be better off not spending more money on a well-made but forgettable film like this one.

    Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving violence and disturbing sequences

    Quality: 8.0/10

    Relevance: 7.0/10


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    Drew.Rub

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    Re: The Possession (Movie Review)

    Post  Drew.Rub on September 1st 2012, 8:32 am

    Thanks for the review Paeter. I really didn't have much conviction to go see The Possession, even as a $1 Redbox rental. Which means if I do see it, someone else is paying for it.

    I think your point about the religous meme of "leaving it to the will of God" and swapping out the trappings of religon for spellcasting is something that's bothered me about "religous" movies for a long time. The influence of God in a supernatural/spiritual battle seems to be constantly relegated to a powerful McGuffin that someone with a super strong faith used at some point in the past and that faith was transferred into the McGuffin yadda yadda yadda.

    I wonder how Hollywood would react (ie would it even get studio backing) if someone wanted to do a movie where God's influence was a central and effective point in a spiritual battle. Like Frank Peretti's "Piercing the Darkness" or "This Present Darkness" novels. There's two books that I'd love to see turned into movies.

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    Re: The Possession (Movie Review)

    Post  DNArington on September 1st 2012, 3:57 pm

    Drew.Rub wrote: Like Frank Peretti's "Piercing the Darkness" or "This Present Darkness" novels.

    My two favorite books of all time!! Though I wouldn't want movies of them, because I think there is too much going on and so much spiritual warfare that it would be difficult to fit it all into some movies and I wouldn't want them to mess it up. Just my opinion of course!

    Sorry, that was so off topic. I just had to say that. Smile

    Drew.Rub

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    Re: The Possession (Movie Review)

    Post  Drew.Rub on September 2nd 2012, 5:36 pm

    DNArington wrote:
    Drew.Rub wrote: Like Frank Peretti's "Piercing the Darkness" or "This Present Darkness" novels.

    My two favorite books of all time!! Though I wouldn't want movies of them, because I think there is too much going on and so much spiritual warfare that it would be difficult to fit it all into some movies and I wouldn't want them to mess it up. Just my opinion of course!

    Sorry, that was so off topic. I just had to say that. Smile

    I would agree that someone would very possibly mess up the story making them into movies. Unless they had actually read them and the books had made an impact on them personally.

    Rickster

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    Re: The Possession (Movie Review)

    Post  Rickster on September 2nd 2012, 8:32 pm

    I haven't read the books but i am hoping to read them next year.

    But i did hear there was a movie in the works years ago )ILN was suppose to be in charge of the effects) but it was never completed

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    Re: The Possession (Movie Review)

    Post  aliciad on September 3rd 2012, 2:36 am

    Thanks for sharing such nice reviews of this flick.

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    Re: The Possession (Movie Review)

    Post  Dunadwarf on September 4th 2012, 12:21 pm

    I've wondered that myself, and while I'm sure Hollywood's secularism is part of it, I think it also might just be basic storytelling limitations.
    Christian storytelling has a similar problem as Superman. When your central character is presented as all-powerful (more true with God, but still a problem with ol' Kal-el) and morally pure, how do you present interesting conflict? If your protaganist cannot be wrong, He has no lesson to learn or growth to achieve. If He cannot be outdone, such as defeated or outsmarted, he has no obstable to overcome. Much like the 50's Superman show, it becomes a tired pattern of 'here's a problem...Oh, he fixed it. Yay."
    If you have a human protaganist instead, one who is flawed, but personally and relevantly connected to such a force, the same problem applies, just one step removed. He or she must either start or somehow become separated from this divine resource, or it's even less interesting as the story is the quest to ask for help.
    Stories can feature God rightly and still be good. Narnia demonstrates this, but it's a difficult angle to hit effectively. Even the Narnia books tend to get repetitive as it's almost always Aslan showing up at the end that saves the day, or Aslan not being there that caused the problem to begin with.

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