The Possession is not a groundbreaking film. It does not redefine horror or suspense films. It doesn't even redefine
"possession films" but it does, what it does, fairly well. The acting is all far above the normal horror fare in that
they hired professionals like Kyra Sedgewick and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (if you get the urge to go see Expendables 2 instead rent the film Morgan starred in a few years back, The Losers, which does NOT suck). Both actors can walk through all this and lend, not an air of gravitas, but a sort of "real world feel." They seem like normal people--which is hard to do as an actor. It is likely much easier to play a cartoon.
In addition The Possession sets up the scariness and doesn't let itself get bogged down in real world problems-- like the relationship between Morgan and Sedgewick. This isn't Kramer Vs. Kramer. So many horror films dwell on the
failing relationship of parents. In "possession" films that always happens. Demons just do NOT bring a family together. A filmmaker, however, should resist the urge to spend much time on it.
We know he is a basketball coach. We know his wife and he are divorced and we know his kids, especially the youngest, are unhappy about it. That is all we need to know!
Cue entrance of supernatural "thing." In many movies it is a house. Hell, it can be a haunted vhs tape. Whatever a demon
can squirm inside! In this case it is a box with Hebrew writing on the sides.We know the box is bad. We see it behaving
in a bad way in the first scene of the film. Trust me, it is a mean, mean box.
We also know the box is going to totally go after the younger daughter, Natasha Calis, who looks like Anna Paquin, and gives off a creepy vibe even before her possessed make-up is applied. She can act. Which is something you don't always find in horror film kid actors. Although recently this has changed a bit.
It isn't particularly scary. It does manage a great deal of creepiness but that is sort of intermittent. The scenes where
the possessed or the box act up are more "scare" scenes and they mostly do not work. This isn't because the scenes are badly done; they are fine. But we have seen bugs. We have seen the person alone with the "cursed object" meet a grisly end. Think about it for awhile screenwriters and give us some new way a demon can do people in!
More irksome is that The Possession follows a typical horror film pattern that neatly sets up a sequel (with all new,
presumably lower-tier talent). In other words it isn't just an end in itself but gives the feel there was some bean
counter somewhere thinking; if this makes cash we need to make another one! Of course, you can ALWAYS make another one even if you let this movie end.
But for most of the film you do not need to think of this. Morgan's "likeableness" and the fact the film is well-paced will keep the horror buff at least vaguely interested. While the film is entertaining--not always something you can count on in a horror film (can you say; "Chernobyl Diaries?")--it will not leave you wanting to see it again. There isn't much you will miss in the first viewing.
Great horror movies always require multiple viewings.