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|
|Editing by||Raph Adiao|
|Studio||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.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (March 2013)|
The film begins with an old woman trying to open a strange box. She turns on old classic music and grabs holy water and a hammer. Before she is able to destroy the box, she is thrown violently around the room by an unseen force. When her son enters, she is unconscious on the floor.
Next, the audience is introduced to newly divorced couple Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie Brenek (Kyra Sedgwick). They have two children, Em (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport). Clyde introduces his daughters to his new house.
At a yard sale with Clyde and Hannah, Em becomes intrigued by an old box which has Hebrew inscriptions engraved on it. Clyde agrees to buy the box for her. When Em walks around the yard carrying the box, she discovers the old woman lying in bed, covered in bandages. Upon seeing the box, the woman slams her hand against the window, screaming, until her nurse closes the blinds.
Em asks Clyde to open the box, but he is unable to and concludes it is not meant to be opened. Em keeps it in her bedroom and that night, begins to hear whispering coming from it. She opens it and finds a tooth, a corpse of a moth, and a ring, which she begins to wear.
Em becomes solitary and spends her spare time staring at the box. Her behavior grows increasingly sinister, to the point where she stabs her father in the hand with a fork. The house later becomes infested with moths, mainly clustered in Em's room. One night while Em is in the bathroom, she starts to vomit. She uses a flashlight and points it into her mouth. After a few seconds, a hand is seen crawling up from the back of her mouth. Em is startled, but doesn't say anything and goes back to bed.
At school, one of Em's classmates discovers the box and begins to antagonize her about it. She screams at him to give the box back and strikes him multiple times before being restrained by her teacher. Clyde and Stephanie are summoned to a meeting with the Em's principal and teacher, where they discuss Em's growing violence and how she is becoming increasingly antisocial.
Em's teacher recommends that Em spend time away from the box, so it is left in the classroom. Later that night, curious about the noises emanating from the box, the teacher tries to open it, but dies when a malevolent force throws her out a window.
Em tells Clyde about an invisible woman (dybbuk) who lives in her box and says Em is "special". Alarmed by her behavior, Clyde attempts to dispose of the box. Clyde returns home and finds Em, crying, asking what he has done with the box. When Clyde refuses to tell her, an unseen force slaps Em, making it seem as if Clyde is abusing her. Em runs away, finds the box, and begins to converse with the dybbuk. Suddenly, moths fly out of the box and into Em's mouth. Em faints and Clyde carries her unconscious body back to his house, where the police and Stephanie wait to take her away from him. Clyde returns to pick up the box.
Clyde takes the box to a professor at the university who tells him it is a dybbuk box that dates back to the 1920s; it was used to contain a dislocated spirit, an ancient Jewish evil or demon. Clyde sneaks into Stephanie's house, enters Em's room and begins to read the Torah to her. Em stares at him blankly, and a force hurls the Torah across the room. Stephanie then comes home, causing him to retreat.
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. While further examining the box, Tzadok discovers the demon's name is Abizu, which he explains is the "taker of children".
Later that evening, Em violently attacks her mother when Stephanie discovers her gorging herself like an animal out of the refrigerator. Stephanie's boyfriend Brett suggests that Em be examined by a psychologist.
The next morning, Brett prepares to take Em to the psychologist. However, when Em stares malevolently at Brett, his mouth begins gushing blood and his teeth begin falling out, causing him to drive away frantically. Em then has a seizure on the front lawn and is taken to the hospital for an MRI. During the procedure, the lights begin to flicker and Stephanie and Hannah are horrified when they see the dybbuk's face in the images, next to Em's heart.
Stephanie then realizes that Em is possessed. Clyde and Tzadok join the rest of the family at the hospital and attempt to conduct an exorcism. After Em breaks free and attacks Tzadok, she escapes to the morgue with Clyde in pursuit. Clyde survives Em's attack but is now possessed. Tzadok performs an exorcism which is successful; the dybbuk crawls out of Clyde and 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. Just after calling Clyde, the car is suddenly hit by a truck, apparently killing him. The box is then seen, having landed several feet from the wreckage.
- 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 Sedgwick's 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