In an attempt to get into the “Halloween Spirit,” I recently went to see the new horror movie, The Possession, directed by Ole Bornedal. It was a rainy fall day with seemingly nothing else to do, so I took my chances.
The plot of the movie revolves around a family’s battle with the curse of an antique wooden box with Jewish inscriptions. From the beginning, it is obvious that the youngest daughter, who is referred to as “Em,” has a strange obsession with the box. As the movie progresses, more incidents prove just how bad the obsession has become and the pair of divorced parents no longer recognizes its daughter. The rest of the movie consists of the family trying to break the possession of Em from the spirits inside the box. After an emotional exorcism and chaotic ending, (spoiler alert), everything is okay in the end and the family is once again reunited.
The problem with the film was the cookie-cutter events that made me feel I had already seen the movie. Maybe i felt this way because ; I essentially paid to see The Exorcist in PG-13 form. The events of increasing severity of the “evil spirit” into the victim are almost exactly identical to the ones in The Exorcist. The Possession takes a similar average family and provides them with a taboo dilemma regarding demons and religion plaguing their innocent daughter.
Debuting in 1973, The Exorcist took movie-goers by shock when portraying the powerful connection between religion and dangerous evil spirits. The events were incredibly disturbing, making it a rated R movie. The Possession has similar events like convulsing bodies and abnormal demonic screams, but at a very basic level. It seemed to me that the only moments where I was wondering what would happen was when someone or something was about to pop out and let out a loud sound. Although the music, special effects, and actors and actresses all played their role in creating a good setting for a scary movie, the events simply were unoriginal.
The reason The Exorcist was such a successful movie was because it was one of a kind when it first premiered and went beyond the typical unrealistic monster horror movie such as Big Foot or The Blob. The goal of The Possession was to be scary because of its modern setting and religious taboo, but did not achieve this. It was redundant as the parents of the possessed child took almost an hour to figure out what the audience already knew; there was a demon in their child. The Possession was a swing and a miss at updating the events of The Exorcist and was nothing new to the avid movie-goer. When comparing the two films, the only major difference was that The Possession had a rabbi performing the exorcism on the on the child at the end, and in The Exorcist there was a priest.
Walking into the movie theater that day, I was not expecting a revolutionary horror film but I did expect to get my money’s worth and at least feel some suspense throughout the movie. Sitting through the film, I found myself waiting for chills to run down my spine and grab the person sitting next to me. I was completely disappointed at the lack of creativity at plot events and the direct parallels to the movie The Exorcist. To me, The Possession was simply a copy-cat film of an R rated movie translated to a PG-13 movie. It demonstrated a lack of creativity in recent films, which are just looking to make money in the box office. Next time, I will be more skeptical to the films and read reviews of the film weeks after it premiers to make sure I don’t wast $11 on a movie I have already seen.