Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ole Bornedal|
|Produced by||Sam Raimi
J. R. Young
|Written by||Juliet Snowden
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
|Music by||Anton Sanko|
|Edited by||Raph Adiao|
|Ghost House Pictures
North Box Productions
|Running time||92 minutes|
|Box office||$78,515,363 |
The Possession is a 2012 supernatural horror film directed by Ole Bornedal and produced by Sam Raimi. It was released in the US on August 31, 2012, with the film premiering at the Film4 FrightFest.
Newly separated couple Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie Brenek (Kyra Sedgwick) are at a yard sale with their two children, Emily "Em" (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport), where Em becomes intrigued by a dybbuk's old box that has Hebrew inscriptions engraved on it. Clyde buys the box for Em. That night, Em hears whispering coming from it. She opens it and finds a tooth, a corpse of a moth, a wooden figurine, and a ring, which she begins to wear. Em becomes solitary and her behavior becomes increasingly sinister, to the point where she stabs her father in the hand with a fork. The house becomes infested with moths.
At school, Em violently attacks a classmate when he takes her box, resulting in a meeting with Clyde and Stephanie and the principal and teacher. Em's teacher recommends that she spend time away from the box so it is left in the classroom. That night, curious about the noises from the box, the teacher tries to open it, but a malevolent force, the dybbuk throws her out a window and she dies. One day, Em tells Clyde about an invisible woman who lives in her box and says that Em is "special". Alarmed by her behavior, Clyde attempts to dispose of the box but Em finds it again and begins conversing with the dybbuk.
Clyde takes the box to a university professor who tells him it is a dybbuk box that dates back to the 1920s; it was used to contain an ancient Jewish demon. Clyde enters Em's room and reads from the Torah; a force hurls the Torah across the room. Clyde then travels to a Hasidic community in Brooklyn and learns from a Jew named Tzadok (Matisyahu) that the possession has three main stages; in the third stage the dybbuk latches onto the host, becoming one entity with it. The only way to defeat the dybbuk is to lock it back into the box via a forced ritual. Upon further examination on the box, Tzadok learns that the demon's name is "Abyzou", or the "Taker of Children".
Em has a seizure and is taken to the hospital for an MRI. During the procedure, Stephanie and Hannah are horrified when they see the dybbuk's face in the images next to Em's heart. Clyde and Tzadok join the family at the hospital and attempt to conduct an exorcism. Clyde survives Em's attack but becomes possessed. Tzadok performs a successful exorcism; the dybbuk crawls back into the box. The family is reunited, with Clyde and Stephanie's love rekindled. Tzadok drives away with the box in Clyde's vehicle. The car is hit by a truck, killing him. The box lands safely from the wreckage and whispering is heard from it, the same Polish rhyme heard at the beginning of the film.
- Natasha Calis as Emily "Em" Brenek
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Clyde Brenek
- Kyra Sedgwick as Stephanie Brenek
- Madison Davenport as Hannah Brenek
- Grant Show as Brett
- Quinn Lord as Student
- Matisyahu as Tzadok
- Jay Brazeau as Professor McMannis
- David Hovan as Rabbi Adan
- Brenda Crichlow as Miss Shandy
- Anna Hagan as Eleanor
- Ella Wade as The Voice of the Dybbuk
- Cameron Sprague as the Abyzou
The film was shot in early 2011.
Bornedal stated that he was drawn to The Possession's script, having seen it as more of an allegory for divorce than as a true horror film. Actors Sedgwick and Morgan were brought in to play the Breneks, with Morgan choosing to perform in the movie after having seen Calis' audition tape. Parts of the movie were filmed at a former mental institution, Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
The owner of the dybbuk box, Jason Haxton, offered to send it to producer Sam Raimi, who was both interested and reluctant. Raimi laughingly told an Entertainment Weekly interviewer, "I didn't want anything to do with it. I'm scared of the thing." He also told the interviewer that he was raised in a conservative Jewish home: "You don't hear about dybbuks when you go to synagogue. I know the demonic lore of The Exorcist. But what does my faith believe about demonic possession? ... The stories chilled me to the bone." Jeffrey Dean Morgan felt similarly: "In the research I did, I started getting creeped out. My girlfriend was like, 'Let's just make sure that we don't actually go near the real Dybbuk Box.'"
"We were like, 'Hell, no,'" recalls screenwriter Juliet Snowden. "'We don't want to see it. Don't send us a picture of it.'"
Director Ole Bornedal said, "Some really weird things happened. I've never stood underneath a neon light before that wasn't lit, that all of a sudden exploded. The worst thing was, five days after we wrapped the movie, all the props burned. This storage house in Vancouver burned down to the ground, and the fire department does not know the cause. I'm not a superstitious man, and I would like to say, 'Yeah, it's just a coincidence.'"
The film has received mixed reviews from critics. It currently holds a rating of 40% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 76 reviews. The general consensus states, "It may be based on a true story, but that doesn't excuse the way The Possession repeatedly falls back on hoary ghost movie clichés – or the unintentional laughs it provides." On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 45/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The film ranked #1 in its opening weekend, taking in an estimated $17.7 million, and an estimated $21.3 million for the full Labor Day Weekend.
- 'Possession': What Is A Dibbuk Box? Bloody Disgusting
- 'The Possession' will scare off competition over slow Labor Day
- Film4 FrightFest unveils horror-filled lineup: 'Possession,' 'Chained,' 'Sinister' among screeners Chicago Tribune
- EXCL: Director & Cast Talk to Us About The Possession Shock Till You Drop
- (San Diego Comic-Con '12) 'The Possession' Director Ole Bornedal On Combining His Own Voice With The Ghosthouse Aesthetic Bloody Disgusting
- "'The Possession' Stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Natasha Calis Bloody". bloody-disgusting.com.
- "'The Possession' Filmed at Eerie Locations for Full Effect". Toonari Post. July 2012.
- Collis, Clark (August 3, 2012). "Little Box of Horrors". Entertainment Weekly. pp. 50–55.
- Lussenhop, Jessica (30 August 2012). "Devil's Wine Box: Missouri's tie to 'The Possession'". Riverfront Times.
- The Possession. Rotten Tomatoes.
- The Possession. Metacritic.com.
- Robert Ebert: Reviews: The Possession.
- The Possession at the Internet Movie Database
- The Possession at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Possession at Box Office Mojo
- The Possession trailer