THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
The Possession (2012)
Directed by Ole Bornedal
“The Possession is a pretty damn fine throwback film that enjoys the small moments..”
With the New Year upon us, we all want to make those worthless resolutions to make ourselves feel better. You know, like 25 push-ups every morning, or eating more apples, or cutting down on crack consumption by half. Whatever the case, it’s to make us into the people we want to be. With that said, we’ll fail at about 99.874% of those resolutions, so that leaves us with one possibility: to wait until we’re dead and overtake some other soul, a better soul.
Ok, so that’s not the plot to the Sam Raimi produced The Possession, but it’s the same idea. Unhappy or cursed souls must find some unsuspecting sap and take "possession" of their bodies in order to live again.
Now this is a subgenre that’s been done over and over to much the same result. Always a little creepy, always quite predictable. It’s an unfair genre actually, considering it begins and ends with a masterpiece in The Exorcist. Every possession film made after it will forever end up compared to it, fair or not. It's just the way it is.
When we do that, well, The Possession doesn’t hold up against the 1973 classic. Few films do.. However, without the old compare/contrast game, The Possession is a pretty damn fine throwback film that enjoys the small moments. It never goes overboard with gore or overdoses on a scare every 30 seconds.
Instead, it’s a slow burn that allows the simple things to give the creep. Funky eye rolls. Nose bleeds. Polish ghost whispers. Lots and lots of moths (hey, they’re freaking little things). You know, simple things. Even when The Possession pushes it when the evil spirit (which is locked in a box most of the film) kills people, it’s mostly implied and tame, and that's not a bad thing. In fact, it's a little refreshing.
The cast is pretty great with the much unappreciated Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the lead as Clyde, an unexplained wealthy low level college basketball coach (it always amazes me why all characters have to have money. Seriously, he just went through a divorce three months ago yet he still drives a BMW and buys a big bad ass house.) Regardless of his questionable financial status, he’s a great leading man, always in control with a comfortable presence on screen. Maybe I just remember him as the second best thing about The Watchmen, but he deserves more work because he’s better than most of the dudes on screen. Usually, Kyra Sedgwick is also equally great, but here she doesn’t have much to do except be bitchy and suspicious of her ex-husband. Probably the most interesting cast member comes from rapper Matisyahu in essentially the Father Merrin role. Here, his Jewish faith helps to expel the demon, though the film doesn’t give him the power he really needs. He comes across weak in the end when we should have been left with the feeling that he holds more strength and control then revealed. In the end, the only way I see why someone would piss on The Possession is if they only want gore and don’t appreciate slower paced horror films. This one deserves another look...and just in time to make yourself into someone else.