Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Sam Raimi may be one of the masters of horror, but his production company Ghost House Pictures has a shockingly bad track record, one that includes such duds as THE GRUDGE, THE MESSENGERS, and BOOGEYMAN. THE POSSESSION, while not great, is at least better than those.
The best thing about the movie is how quiet it is. Director Ole Bornedal knows the power of silence in creating tension and for the most part avoids obvious audio cues that typically telegraph big scares in films like this. There's also a solid story and characterization behind THE POSSESSION. WATCHMEN's Jeffrey Dean Morgan has a good relationship with his onscreen daughters. They feel like real family members, not stock horror characters, and when stuff goes down the underrated Morgan sells the desperation nicely. The undercurrents of divorce, suggesting the girl might be acting out instead of possessed, also adds another layer.
Still, while the script is better put together than your average modern horror movie, THE POSSESSION is just not that scary. And since that's the main reason to watch a film like this, it's kind of a letdown. There's your usual jump scares, acts of PG-13 violence and gross out moments, but nothing really memorable or affecting. And some of the parts that are supposed to be terrifying are almost unintentionally funny, like the MRI scene or the final exorcism. (I also enjoyed that we never see the consequences of the new boyfriend's quick dispatch or the fact that the only Jewish person that can save the day is famed Hasidic reggae artist Matisyahu.)
Like a lot of horror films, THE POSSESSION claims to be based on a true story, but this time they're not lying. There really is a dybbuk box that was said to be haunted and passed along from person to person, most famously through a public eBay auction a few years ago. Part of me wishes they made a film about the creepy history of the real box instead of turning it in to a standard possession flick.
Commentary: You get two commentaries here, one by director Ole Bornedal and another with writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White. Neither is interesting or special enough to warrant rewatching the film, and as a rule, I really wish they had put everyone together on one track instead of separating them out.
The Real History of the Dybbuk Box (13:19): This is sadly way more interesting and creepy than the movie itself. The feature talks to the previous and current owners of the real-life box and examines all the bad things that befell them and their families. Beware! They actually show the real thing on video.
Trailers , Previews and a Digital Copy are also included.
THE POSSESSION gets some stuff right, but none of it involves being scary. The included short documentary on the real dybbuk box is actually more creepy than the film itself.
Extra Tidbit: The current owner of the dybbuk box offered to send it to Sam Raimi for research but he wisely chickened out.