September 11th, 2012

crossed heart

The Possession –

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

So I sometimes like to go watch horror films and then talk about them afterwards….

The Possession was actually pretty good. Not in the scheme of all films ever, but I’d have to say it was in my top horror films seen this past year (the horror film year running from Oct to Oct, natch ;)).

Ostensibly, the Possession is about a dybbuk box (which is an entirely made up concept) that has a demon from old school Jewish mythology in it. A kid gets her recently divorced father to buy it for her at a yardsale, badness ensues, she gets possessed, and then eventually the power of family love saves her..

But the acting is really grand, and so it winds up not being entirely about the demonic possession, or cheesy at the end. Under the surface is this bittersweet layer of what happens to a recently divorced man, and how he tries to connect or reconnect with his kids. There’s a lot of running in dramatically well done lighting, either away from one another or towards each other that I found poignant without being cloying. The magic of characters who care for one another, even though their new situations are prickly, is what made this movie good for me.

Another thing that they do right is that the nature of what the demon wants is hidden. Clearly, it’s bad news — but the build up is done very slowly, and they actually take their time. The clarification of what the demon wants at the end actually breaks a little of the magic (although it was inevitable — I do wonder what precisely all these demons in these movies intend to do with the innocent people they possess once they’re done with them, I mean really :P) but until then, it’s almost more nerve wracking to not know what’s going on, only that it’s gonna be bad, bad, bad.

Some of the special effects are ingenious — and some of them are interesting in their absence. There’s a scene where the possessed little girl is frightening her mother through a row of jars, and you can’t see her face clearly, just the jar-glass version of it, which is really effective (and harkens back back to the distortion and chaos that divorce can cause, now that I think on it). The other person’s just over there, only it’s not them anymore, and you can’t see them as clearly as you used to….

There were only two missteps. The first was in the “oh hai, Jewish mythology montage” where the father learns what’s up with his daughter via the magic of the internet, and then he makes a special trip to an expert who lays it out for stupid people. While I get that it’s necessary, I could really do my whole life without ever seeing another one of these scenes. Or pick just one, sheesh. Especially as he’s clearly figured it out and he winds up getting a Jewish exorcist to help him out.

The second is when he’s trying to convince his wife. Due to his daughter’s erratic behavior she’s earned herself an MRI — whereupon they (the ex-husband and ex-wife) can clearly see the demon inside of her. You know, hanging out inside her lung. Thiiiiiisssss fell into midichlorian territory for me. I have sympathies, because as someone who writes medical-paranormal (that’s my new genre now, it’s all mine) the temptation to get all up-in-DNA is so there. Who knows, I might fall into that well eventually. But it was really trying to over explain something and losing some of the magic in the process. A few flash frames of creepy was-it-there-did-I-see-that?-zomg would have been fine, but for there to be a moving something-something inside there (apart from MRIs not working like that) and the thing quiet-screaming dramatically, like, “Yo, I’m just hanging out in your daughter’s upper lobe,” um, no. (Not that I haven’t had patients who seemed possessed before. Or that I would have been surprised if they’d coughed up a demon, a lung, a dead twin, a second head, you name it, by the end of the night.)

But overall, much more good than bad, especially from this past year’s crop.

Now…who is looking forward to Silent Hill: Revelation with me? :D