My husband and I arrives fashionable late to The Possession, a horror film directed by Ole Bornedal and co-produced by Sam Raimi. [SPOILERS AHEAD] The film begins with an elderly women trying to open a box covered in strange carvings. As the box begins to whisper to her, she turns on music and grabs a hammer and holy water to attempt to destroy the box. Before she can do so, she is hit by an unseen force, thrown around the room, and lands on the floor unconscious where her son finds her.
Later, Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) brings his daughters to a yard sale where his youngest daughter, Emily, finds the box and convinces Clyde to purchase it. As Em becomes more and more fascinated with the box, eventually opening it and wearing a ring she finds inside, her behavior begins to get bizarre and frightening. She becomes overprotective of the box and goes through physical changes, such as discovering a hand which seems to be crawling out of her body through her throat. The house later becomes infested with moths, primarily in Em’s room.
Clyde, upon seeing how the box is affecting his daughter, attempt to dispose of it. This results in Em running barefoot from the house after being slapped by an unseen force and thinking it was Clyde. She runs to the exact location of the box where she has a conversation with the entity contained within and is fully possessed by what lurked inside. Stephanie (Kyra Sedgewick), Clyde’s ex wife, takes the girls away after suspecting abuse.
Clyde begins to research the box and discovers that it is a Dybbuk box used to contain a broken spirit or demon. He then goes to the local Hasidic community to learn more about the possession; the demon’s name is Abizu, taker of children. Tzadok, a member of the community, returns with Clyde to assist. An exorcism is performed and Abizu travels from Em to Clyde before returning to the box, its prison. Tzadok, having saved the family, returns to his community with plans to keep the box safe from society only to be hit by a truck on his drive, seeming to kill him. The film ends with a shot of the box, laying on the road, the demon whispering once again.
The film is based on true stories surrounding the Dybbuk box. The box was put on ebay by a seller who warned buyers that the box came with bad luck; after he obtained the box, he began prematurely losing his hair. The box resulted in a woman having a stroke. It frightened a sales clerk by producing foul language, an odor of cat urine, and breaking light bulbs. It gave a couple nightmares of a gruesome, demonic looking hag. It is a feared object by many and definitely is connected with some questionable events.
The Possession started off a bit slow. The attack on the elderly woman was violent and definitely had Raimi’s fingerprints all over it, but it lacked a bit in the fear department. The storyline with Clyde and Stephanie as a still bitter and recently divorced couple with the eldest daughter acting like a typical bratty teen was a story we’ve all seen time and time again in various films. Since the preview showed Em shining a flashlight in her mouth to discover a hand crawling out, the shock of that scene was not as powerful as it was meant to be.
The film began picking up when Em’s bedroom filled with moths. Seeing this little girl surrounded by bugs while being fixated on the box was definitely creepy. Watching her flee the house to immediately find the discarded box and become possessed was also worth of goosebumps. The attack on Em’s teacher was good, but the attack on Stephanie’s boyfriend was better; seeing this dentist feel his teeth drop out of his mouth one by one, leaving behind a bloody mess, made my skin crawl. I also enjoyed seeing an exorcism as it would theoretically be performed in the Jewish community rather than the ones performed by Catholics that we usually see in films.
I both enjoyed and was expecting the ending to play out as it did. Clyde and Stephanie reuniting seemed predictable; often in films we see a tragic event reunite jilted lovers and broken families. Obviously Stephanie’s boyfriend would not be returning after experiencing such a frightening event and seeing the horrific transformation of Em. Their storyline of breaking up and reuniting was almost unnecessary. With Tzadok’s assumed death and the box being released unprotected back into the world, it definitely made me jump. The total destruction of the car was fantastic. I would have liked to see someone approach the box though; it was a good close to have the movie end on the whispering box, but I would have liked to see someone walk to up it first.
Overall, this was a good movie. It wasn’t necessarily one that you would have to see in the theater and there are a lot of quiet moments that a crowded theater would ruin, but it definitely is worth a watch. It has enough elements in it to separate it from typical possession flicks and has a few great scares. It was also nice to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan in something where he doesn’t die. Happy viewing.