The Possession Ole Bornedal

The Possession Ole Bornedal
4
The trouble with a thriller like The Possession is that it's so preoccupied with the next scare that it doesn't spend nearly enough time interested in the spaces in-between where the story is supposed to be. It should be no surprise, then, when we end up with loose or meandering plot threads and characters asking a possessed little girl, "Are you okay?" long after it's become painfully obvious that she's clearly not. Supposedly based on a "true" story, Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is a single dad recently estranged from his wife, Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick), and while on a weekend visit with his daughters, Em (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport), the former inadvertently purchases a dybbuk box at a lawn sale (fans of the Coen brothers' A Serious Man will remember from its prologue that a dybbuk is a restless spirit). With its weird etchings and penchant for attracting strange moths, the box slowly starts to take command of Em. Soon, she is punching a kid at school for touching it and looking as if she crawled out of the well in The Ring. Only Clyde recognizes the evil powers of the box, desperately searching for answers down a path that eventually leads him to an explanation from some perturbed Hasidic Jews (one of whom is played by musician Matisyahu). It would be easy to dismiss this as pure trash if not for a few genuinely creepy moments and some striking imagery. Still, the suspense often relies on more redundant quiet-loud spikes than bad power-pop and the tone is so serious that it drags the performances into melodrama, at times. A hushed and intense commentary by Danish director Ole Bornedal (Nightwatch, Deliver Us From Evil) helps shed light on the state of the final product, as he speaks in a pretentious fashion that borders on, at times, self-parody. When not otherwise extolling the virtues of English industrial group Throbbing Gristle (who are not on the film's soundtrack), he reveals a philosophy that "every good drama needs silence, not noise." In its own way, this commentary is more entertaining (and terrifying) than the film. Also included on the disc is a short documentary on a real-life experience with a dybbuk box that's somewhat convincing, but still profiles a man who, despite a few curious brushes with strange happenings, leads a fairly pleasant and normal life free of demonic possession. (Alliance)