Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Possession, dir. Ole Bornedal, wr. Juliet Snowden, Stiles White, st. Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Matisyahu

Produced by Sam Raimi (what self-respecting horror flick isn't these days?), this run-of-the-mill supernatural chiller bears little of its potentially impressive Scandi-credentials due to Danish director Bornedal, or indeed much imaginative storytelling at all, preferring instead to repackage ostensibly the same trope-marked features of similar supine spinetinglers. Dean Morgan and Sedgwick play Clyde and Stephanie Brenek, going through a messy divorce, and forcing their kids to timeshare between the two. At a local car boot sale near Dad's new house, daughter Em (Callis) comes across an ornate wooden box, seamless and rattling. In classic eye-rolling tradition, Clyde allows his precious girl to keep the box, even though he recognises it looks like it was designed to keep something locked away never to be opened, and it's not long before little Em is coughing up moths, speaking in tongues and in one of the better - alas trailer-spoilt sequences - finding fingers emerging from her throat as if someone or something is trying to claw their way out from inside her. Bornedal might have conceived The Possession as an allegory on divorce, but don't be fooled by the higher-brow aspirations, there's nothing here that's particularly illuminating in that department. Which is a great shame, as apparently, the notion of a 'dybbuk box' - essentially a DIY Ghostbusters-style ghost trap - is based on a very real item that has a genuinely disturbing past according to those that have been in possession of it. But as usual, in a bid for commercial success that involves the bleaching of every new movie of this genre free of innovative features that set it apart from its competitors, The Possession falls wearily back on hoary clichĂ© that is more likely to elicit sighs rather than shrieks.