The POSSESSION is a handsomely made film with fine performances and gorgeous cinematography, but it’s all in purpose of a story that we have seen over and over again since all the way back to THE EXORCIST.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Parents of precocious children obtain a cursed object and said object contains an ancient evil that possesses one of the children. Assuming it is physiological, it further shatters the family dynamic until it’s clear that the only rational explanation is that the real source is supernatural. In comes an exorcist and together they cast out the demon, vanquishing evil and reuniting the family. THE END (or is it?). Oh, did I mention that it’s also based on “true events?”
This premise can be applied to more movies than I can count. It’s just the window dressing that changes.
In this variation, The parents (Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedwick) are recently divorced and Morgan’s Clyde Brenek is a good guy and loves his kids, but he’s a bit of an absent father. Stopping at a yard sale with his two young daughters, Em (Natasha Calis) buys an old wooden box with Hebrew writing etched in its side. When she gets it home, the box appears impenetrable, but she manages to work out how to open it. Inside are jars full of odd objects, but what’s really inside is a Dybbuk: A malevolent possessing spirit from Jewish mythology.
Em starts showing signs of odd behavior, but it is dismissed as trauma from her parent’s divorce. Soon it becomes abundantly clear that she is in fact possessed by a demon and Clyde must consult the Hasidic Jews in New York on how to exorcise it from his daughter.
That’s pretty much it. The film contains all the tropes you would expect. They’re done well here, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. The mythology of the Dybbuk and its box are cool, but once again so is most of the other demons we’ve seen in past movies.
Now I don’t want you to think that I thought the movie was bad. It isn’t. It’s quite watchable and better than most of its ilk. It’s just uninspired and trite. If you’ve never seen a film in this possession subgenre than this will certainly work for you, but if you’re a fan like me, it’s just a gussied up retread.