If you were just thinking to yourself that the summer box-office needed more movies about ancient demons trapped inside of wooden boxes, look no further than “The Possession,” in theaters now.
Starring “Watchmen” actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan and “The Closer” star Kyra Sedgwick, “The Possession” focuses on a family torn asunder when young Em (Natasha Colis) gets her hands on a box containing an evil spirit that rapidly transforms her into something otherworldly. Directed by Ole Bornedal and produced by horror legend Sam Raimi , “The Possession” wins points for originality in a tired genre, particularly in its casting. After all, it’s not every day you get to see a movie starring Matisyahu as a Jewish exorcist, is it?
Read on for a selection of reviews for “The Possession.”
“Malevolent boxes abound in horror movies (the Rubik’s Cube-like container of ’Hellraiser’ being one of the most memorable), their contents inevitably wreaking havoc on humankind. The ratty receptacle in ’The Possession’ is no different: scooped up at a yard sale by Emily (Natasha Calis), the younger of two daughters toughing out the tension between their divorced parents, this particular box wastes no time releasing its inhuman contents. But when Emily’s tightly wound mother (an appropriately brittle Kyra Sedgwick) and softhearted father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the softest) try to intervene, the child stabs Daddy with a fork and clings to her find as if it sheltered Justin Bieber’s tears. And when demonic digits emerge from behind the girl’s tonsils, it’s evident she requires more than a timeout.” — Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
The Family Drama
“There are, in my mind, two kinds of horror movies. There’s the kind where you don’t particularly care about any of the characters, all of whom exist only to meet grisly ends. Then there’s the kind where you truly like the characters, and half the unease comes from seeing these people face something terrifying. This is the harder kind of horror to pull off, and usually horror hounds are satisfied with movies where they don’t hate all the characters. What makes ’The Possession’ a cut above is the fact that you like the characters. The family drama in ’The Possession’ is just as, if not more, gripping than the horror story. What’s more, the two elements work thematically together. In fact they work so well together that I think the movie drops the ball by not making a bigger deal of these thematic elements.” — Devin Faraci, Badass Digest
The Matisyahu Show
“[The] movie is kind of stolen by the Hasidic rapper Matisyahu as the hip son of a rabbi who helps perform an exorcism to put that dybbuk back in his box. Matisyahu seems to be performing at a different temperature than everyone else in the cast, keeping it cool and laid-back while the other actors huff and puff their way through.” — Mark Olsen, The Los Angeles Times
The “Exorcist” Factor
“The scene where [Matisyahu’s rabbi] goes mano a mano with the dybbuk will remind lots of people of Max von Sydow’s face to face with a demon in ’The Exorcist.’ Comparisons can be made with Linda Blair’s suffering in that film, and Natasha Calis’ tortured performance here. Fair enough. ’The Exorcist’ has influenced a lot of films, and this is one of the better ones.” — Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times
The Final Word
“Anyone who actually believes in dybbuks and other ghoulies will find ’The Possession’ terrifying. For the rest of us, the movie is a cleverly constructed, well-paced piece of hokum. Director Ole Bornedal, a Danish film veteran, is craftier than most of the young pups making horror pictures these days, and Juliet Snowden and Stiles White’s script actually tells a story, rather than just stringing together a series of loud noises and shock cuts.” — Mark Jenkins, The Washington Post
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Possession.”