The Possession Review (Kirk Haviland)

The Possession (2012)

Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Davenport, Natasha Calis, Grant Show, Matisyahu

Written by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White

Directed by Ole Bornedal

Late August has long been a staple for horror film releases, and also a dumping ground for lacklustre fare like last week’s The Apparition. Trying to buck the trend this year is the newest releases from Alliance Films, The Possession. Produced by Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures, The Possession was an idea Raimi had been pursuing for years, now finally coming to realization through director Bornedal. Featuring a fantastic poster and creepy trailer, the question remains, does The Possession deliver on its promise?

Supposedly based on a true story, The Possession is the terrifying story of how one family must unite in order to survive the wrath of an unspeakable evil. Clyde (Dean Morgan) and his recently divorced ex-wife Stephanie (Sedgwick) see little cause for alarm when their youngest daughter Em (Calis) becomes oddly obsessed with an antique wooden box she purchased at a yard sale. At first chalking the shift in behaviour to the divorce, Clyde starts to sense there may be something more as Em’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic. Unable to convince Stephanie and new boyfriend Brett (Show) or his eldest daughter Hannah (Davenport) that there is something wrong, Clyde sets out to discover what is happening on his own. Clyde fears that there is a malevolent force in their midst, only to discover that the box was built to contain a dibbuk, a dislocated spirit that inhabits and ultimately devours its human host, and this dibbuk happens to prey on the young and innocent.

The Possession starts out strong. A particularly effective scene of a woman as she tries to destroy the box and the nasty comeuppance which that act brings. Sadly all the good work here is squandered by the end of the film. The script is tight until the lunacy of the final act. Inventive and daring, although perhaps relying a little too much on computer generated imagery, the film drives along at a sharp pace, not leaving copious amounts of time to catch your breath, but still taking enough time to explain and delve into the characters. The lead cast deliver good performances, especially Dean Morgan as the perplexed and devoted father, and Calis as the object of the possession. Calis will be one to watch as her performance here is seasoned well beyond her years on the planet, excellent work.

Now to the disappointment, The Possession falls apart in the last 20 minutes due to poor choices and poor script work. The ending is truly awful and leaves a sour taste in your mouth as you exit the cinema. The CGI is clumsy and a particular CGI creation is just simply the wrong decision. Everything gets wrapped up nicely, complete with a nice little bow on top, except the box moves on, in a completely predictable and underwhelming final couple of minutes. The CGI in the film works quite well for about 90% of the production. A lot of the gags involving Calis work like a charm, it’s just too bad the commercials/trailers ruined most of those moments.

Definitely not the least successful genre film in the multiplex right now, The Possession works for most of the film as a taught piece of horror, but the last 20 minutes waste all the positive work. The Possession is a very mild recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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Nightwatch\Nattevagten Review (Matt Hodgson)

Nightwatch\Nattevagen (1994)

Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sofie Gråbøl, Kim Bodnia, Lotte Anderson, and Ulf Pilgaard

Screenplay by Ole Bornedal

Directed by Ole Bornedal

I think of myself as a horror movie connoisseur and as a result I’m kind of embarrassed to say that I had not seen Nightwatch until a few nights ago. This film is not necessarily one of the greatest horror movies of all-time, but it is on plenty of ‘the best underrated or underappreciated horror movies’ lists. I think Nightwatch has earned every bit of its reputation as a hidden horror movie gem. This is a taut thriller with some definite horror movie elements that make for a creepy evening in at the movies.

Martin (Coster-Waldau) is a law student hard up for cash to finance his studies. In fact, he is so desperate for cash that he takes a job as a night watchman in a mortuary. As the soon-to-be-retired watchman shows Martin his new digs we quickly get the feeling that things may not be as dead as expected at the mortuary. In addition to his unsettling new job a terrifying story is making headlines in the news. Martin, his beautiful girlfriend Kalinka (Gråbøl), his capricious friend Jens (Bodnia), and Jen’s pious girlfriend (Anderson) follow the series of killings in which a Jack-The-Ripper-esque killer is disposing of prostitutes in a very grotesque manner. The killings quickly become more than just news and part of Martin’s reality as the bodies of the deceased women begin to be deposited in the mortuary during his shifts. Strange happenings at the mortuary and Inspector Wörmer’s more than casual interest in Martin’s extracurricular activities give Martin pause to wonder – was this the best job for him after all?

Right from the start of Nightwatch it feels like a very professional movie and not some cheap old horror film (sorry if you were looking for nostalgia). From the very first scene depicting a dinner party with Martin and his friends, we are treated to beautiful cinematography and even a little symbolism, not always a staple of the horror genre. Martin’s scenes at the mortuary are both suspenseful and frightening. Nothing in the world would make me agree to take Martin’s place during those lonely scenes that would likely inspire some of the most disconcerting journeys of imagination. As the viewers, we truly feel for Martin and share his fear.

One problem with Nightwatch is a bizarre bet that Martin and Jens make near the beginning of the film. It’s a bet fueled by machismo in which the friends can request anything of each other, if they do not comply, then they lose the bet. This is a very flimsy plot device, and unfortunately one that the narrative revisits and relies on throughout the film. If you can suspend your incredulity for this one point then the rest of Nightwatch is very enjoyable.

Finally, one of the greatest strengths of Nightwatch, second only to its unsettling atmosphere, is the traditional who-dunnit at the heart of the film. The characters are quite well written, many having the potential to be the serial killer on the loose, and they should have you guessing at the identity of the killer right up to the final scenes of the film.

If you’re looking to try out an older horror film then take a chance on Nightwatch. But be warned, patrolling the almost silent halls of the mortuary alongside Martin at night is not recommended for the faint of heart.

 

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