The Possession

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The Possession
ThePossession2012Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ole Bornedal
Produced by Sam Raimi
Robert Tapert
J. R. Young
Written by Juliet Snowden
Stiles White[1]
Starring Natasha Calis
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Kyra Sedgwick
Grant Show
Madison Davenport
Matisyahu
Music by Anton Sanko
Edited by Raph Adiao
Production
company
Ghost House Pictures
North Box Productions
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release dates
  • August 31, 2012 (2012-08-31) (United States)
  • August 30, 2012 (2012-08-30) (Hong Kong & Macau)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14 million[2]
Box office $78,515,363 [3]

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.[4]

The story is based on the allegedly haunted dybbuk box.[5] Bornedal cited films like The Exorcist as an inspiration, praising their subtlety.[6]

Plot[edit]

A newly separated couple Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie Brenek (Kyra Sedgwick) live in different homes. After Clyde picks up their two children, Emily "Em" (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport), for the weekend, they stop at a yard sale 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.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

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.[5] 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.[7] Parts of the movie were filmed at a former mental institution, Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, British Columbia.[8]

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."[9] 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.'"[9]

"We were like, 'Hell, no,'" recalls screenwriter Juliet Snowden. "'We don't want to see it. Don't send us a picture of it.'"[10]

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.'"[9]

Reception[edit]

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."[11] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 45/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[12]

However, Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ stars, writing "The Exorcist has influenced a lot of films, and [The Possession] is one of the better ones."[13] Richard Roeper also gave the movie a B+.

Box Office[edit]

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.[14]

See also[edit]

Portal icon Film portal Portal icon Horror fiction portal

References[edit]

External links[edit]